"Santa" Deryl McKenzie goes home for Christmas after a successful heart transplant

Pooja Lodhia Image
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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Doctors help heal "Santa" Deryl McKenzie just in time for the holiday.

KINGWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- Heart transplant recipient Deryl McKenzie is on the road to recovery after being discharged from the hospital.

You could try to say that McKenzie isn't Santa Claus, but some won't believe you.

"When you quit believing, you quit receiving," he said.

McKenzie has been playing Santa Claus at different events for more than 30 years.

If there's one thing he knows, it's how to believe, especially after what happened earlier this year.

"My doctor told my wife, 'There's nothing more we can do for him.' So me and my wife planned my funeral that night," he said.

McKenzie then received a special visit from surgeons at Memorial Hermann Hospital's Heart and Vascular Institute with good news.

After multiple procedures, McKenzie was approved for a heart transplant in October.

"When you take missions like being a Santa, you need to have that perseverance and determination and I should say Mr. McKenzie is one of those gentlemen," said Dr. Sriram Nathan with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute/UTHealth.

After seven months in the hospital, McKenzie was finally discharged.

He is home for Christmas, and already brightening up the holiday season for those around him.

"Christmas isn't about what you get," he said. "It's what you give."

Here's a GoFundMe to help "Santa" Deryl McKenzie with his medical expenses.

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