Garrett was born with a Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). He was only 24 hours old when he first began showing signs of heart problems and he was airlifted from the hospital in Lakeland, Florida to Shands Children’s Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
HLHS describes a group of complex congenital heart defects that occur in otherwise healthy newborns. Several problems exist in the left side of the heart in babies born with HLHS. In HLHS, the left bottom-pumping chamber (left ventricle) is very small or sometimes non-existent. In addition, the aortic valve leading into the aorta, the main vessel sending blood with oxygen to the body, may be narrowed or closed. The aorta itself may also be very small and narrowed. Garrett’s condition was severe and he ultimately needed a heart transplant. He received one when he was only three months old. After the transplant, Garrett was growing and developing normally.
Then, once Garrett turned six years old, he and his parents received more bad news. Garret was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma. Garrett underwent chemotherapy for three months at Shands Children’s Hospital at UF. Not too long after this ordeal. Garrett began to show signs of rejection of his transplanted heart. As a result, he was treated with steroids and comes up to Shands once a month for a special treatment.
Garrett certainly has been through a great deal in his young life and it has made him much more mature than his years might indicate, but he will always be a kid at heart. This is obvious when one sees him enjoying a big bowl of ice cream or playing with his brothers and sister.