ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - This is a Christmas one Illinois family will never forget: the Christmas their 12 year-old boy got a new heart and new chance at life.
Daniel Lyons had been on the heart transplant list for just one week, when his mother got a call late Monday night that his new heart had arrived. They immediately got in the car and drove five hours from the Quad Cities to St. Louis.
As of Tuesday night, Daniel still had not woken up from surgery. But when he does, there will be a big surprise waiting for him.
It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the Lyons family, who found out in late September that Daniel's asthma attack was actually an enlarged heart, that would ultimately fail him.
“His heart looked like an 85 year-old man’s heart, so they said, we have to do a heart transplant,” says Daniel’s mother, Laura Lyons.
And now, on Christmas Eve, Daniel’s mother and grandmother spent all day in the waiting room, nervous but overjoyed. “I’m glad my son got a heart,” Lyons explains, “That’s what we all wanted for Daniel to have, and that’s the best Christmas present I ever got.”
But like any 12 year-old, Daniel was devastated by the thought of spending Christmas in a hospital bed, especially with the thought of no presents. “He was really scared today, crying going back to the OR,” says his mother.
That’s when a nurse stepped in, who happened to befriend Daniel when he first came to Children’s a few months ago. Cardiac ICU RN Sarah Tigges says, “We did not know that they were coming, and on our assignment sheet this morning we saw that he was getting a heart.”
She and Daniel’s mother met in the hospital’s Snowflake Village, which is filled with gifts for kids like Daniel during Christmas.
Now, when Daniel wakes up on Christmas Day, he’ll be able to have a Christmas after all: new presents, and a lifetime to enjoy them. Tigges explains, “Nobody likes to spend Christmas in the hospital, so the fact that he got a new heart on Christmas Eve is pretty much a gift and miracle in itself, and now he’ll be able to have some toys for himself.”
In terms of Christmas for the rest of the family, Daniel’s three siblings, ranging in age from 3 to 15, will open a few presents while he’s gone, but they’ll wait to truly celebrate Christmas until Daniel comes home.