Da’Realis Dennard is finally home and feeling like himself again, but the 17-year-old nearly died of heart failure and spent more than three months in a South Florida hospital.
“He complained of heart pain and shortness of breath and once he was in the hospital everything went downhill very quickly,” said his mother, Lakesha Prichard.
Dennard has a rare genetic condition called Kearns-Sayre syndrome, which can cause muscle problems, especially the eyes and heart. In short, his heart was too weak to work alone and he had severe heart failure.
“When we met him, he had trouble walking and talking, eating and really doing all the things we take for granted. Our evaluation was done and we found that he had something called Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy. not good and doesn’t squeeze well,” says Dr. Svetlana Shugh, a pediatric heart failure and transplant cardiologist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
After being transferred from another hospital, Shugh intervened and helped Dennard find a life-saving solution.
“We were able to use something called a heart partner 3 LVAD or heart pump to implant in his heart. It’s all inside and it just has a cable that comes out and connects to a controller and batteries. Essentially a power source said Shugh.
The teen is the first pediatric patient in Florida to receive the small, implantable device. Dennard said he immediately noticed a difference in his quality of life and that he could be home and go to the store and school.
“I used to go to sleep every night and my chest would be hot and I would feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep, but after surgery, that just all went away,” Dennard said.
He also went back to doing his favorite thing, playing video games.
“To be honest, the first thing I did was figure out how to hook up my Xbox,” said Dennard.
Dennard and his mother said it wasn’t easy, but they are grateful they made the choice to have surgery.
“The love and support just made it a lot easier for us to get through this process. It was hard, but they helped us a lot. It’s still a healing process, but I got my son back. I recommend to anyone who does it.” need get it because it changed our lives. It really is,” Prichard said.
“If it helps you live longer, why not? No regrets,” said Dennard.
Doctors are further evaluating Dennard to see if he would be a good candidate for a full heart transplant in the future, but they say the LVAD device is a step in the right direction.