Teen who had artificial heart gets transplant

November 2, 2011 4:53:47 PM PDT
A teenager who lived with an artificial heart now has a real heart beating in his chest. We've followed the story of Jordan Merecka for months.

He just received the heart in the last few days. It's something his family has hope for.

Jordan Merecka expected to be graduating from high school in May. Instead, he lay dying in the hospital. His congenital heart problem sent him to the brink of death. But he was saved by a manmade heart.

"You hear it and you know it's still pumping," he said when Eyewitness News interviewed him in July.

In September, he went home with the heart after six months in Texas Children's Hospital.

"It's been a lot better, just more freedom, and do what I want," he told us in a follow-up interview.

Jordan went fishing with his cousin, carrying his backpack of batteries. The mechanical heart was always meant to be temporary. It was a way to keep him alive until he could get a real human heart.

"It's a reminder of the gift that God has given us, that we still have Jordan and he's waiting for a donor heart," said Merecka's mother, Suzanne Merecka.

For five months, he lived with an artificial heart -- until Saturday, when the call came and there was a human heart for Jordan. It was a complicated surgery.

Dr. David Morales had to remove the artificial heart, and the scar tissue it had created, before he could put in the human heart. But it worked.

"He has done fantastic since surgery and we hope this continues and keeps going forward," Dr. Morales said.

And on Halloween, Jordan Merecka dressed as his doctor.

"He was a little more than 24 hours out of a 12-hour surgery and he's the one cracking jokes," Dr. Morales said.

Jordan couldn't talk to us because he's in isolation due to the high risk of infection. But they tell us that it won't be long before Jordan Merecka goes home -- again. And this time, he won't have to drag a battery and a pump around.

His surgeon said Jordan actually got stronger on his manmade heart. The longest someone has lived with an artificial heart is about two years.

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