Lesley and Tim Correll learned their baby boy Seth had a serious heart defect the day after he was born. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum, a rare condition in which the valve that allows blood to flow from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs hasn’t formed properly, depriving the baby of oxygen. He was transferred to the Nemours Cardiac Center for the first of a three-stage open-heart surgery.
Seth had two surgeries within those first few weeks but failed to respond. “Everything was a blur,” Lesley says. “When they told us his only option was a transplant, it hit us like a brick wall. We had done everything right during the pregnancy and had no family history of problems. We were devastated.”
Seth was on the transplant list for two months when the call came in the middle of the night. “I held him all night, until it was time to get his new heart. The team kept us updated at every step. When I saw him a few hours later, he was pink, not gray as he had been. His hands were warm. It was like life had been breathed into him.”
Seth was home two months later, and has been thriving ever since. He runs and plays like a typical 5-year-old, and loves sports, especially baseball. But for the Corrells to experience such joy over Seth’s recovery, another family had faced devastating loss.
“I reached out to the donor family through Gift of Life,” Lesley says. “We corresponded for a while anonymously, but then lost touch when they moved. I could feel the pain in their letter, so I didn’t push it.”
The two families reconnected after four years, began corresponding and eventually met in person. Lesley learned the story of the little boy who had saved her son. “Her letter was gut-wrenching,” Lesley says. “As she sat in the hospital and thought about another mom holding her child and hoping he would live, she realized that donation felt right.”
“Our times together are bittersweet,” Lesley adds. “She is happy about the joy Seth brings to us, and appreciates being part of his life. We are grateful that Seth can know the family that saved his life. He keeps a picture of the boy in his room. Their gift means the world to us.”
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