Arkansas teen finds new heart in St. Louis - KMOV.com

Arkansas teen finds new heart in St. Louis

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Daniel Smith received his new heart on March 27 at Children's Hospital. (Credit: KMOV) Daniel Smith received his new heart on March 27 at Children's Hospital. (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

An Arkansas teen found the right organ donor in St. Louis just in time.

The long beeps in Daniel Smith’s room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital almost match his 18-year-long wait for a new heart.

“It was kind of just something I knew was going to happen all my life,” Daniel Smith said.

When he was just six hours old, doctors diagnosed him with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“Which meant he did not have the entire left side of his heart,” Pediatric Cardiologist Janet Scheel said.

Scheel said his defective heart has done well working in overdrive.

“You take the only pumping chamber you have. You don’t have two, you have one. You make that into the pumping chamber for the whole body,” Scheel said.

One-chamber hearts in children are known to eventually fail.

“I eventually noticed I did not have the same endurance as other people. I could not keep up necessarily,” Daniel said.

It got worse, and the need for a heart transplant rapidly grew. Recently, a match was found for him in St. Louis.

“It was a roller coaster from the moment we got the call until he had the surgery,” Bettina Smith, Daniel’s mother, said.

Daniel’s father Larry, who is an ICU nurse, traveled back and forth while Bettina handled things at home.

“I knew in my heart all the bad that could happen. God did not intend it that way. He did not intend Dan to get 18 years with this heart only to leave him at this time of need,” Larry said.

Daniel received his new heart on March 27.

April is National Donate Life Month.

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