Beckett Genuardi spent his first two months of life at home with his family surrounded by the love of his parents and three siblings. Family life at home was filled with his giggles. Beckett’s mom, Taylor Genuardi, started to notice what seemed like difficulty with Beckett’s breathing but was told everything was fine. Over time Taylor was certain her son was working hard to breathe.
Beckett was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, of an unknown origin. This condition affects the heart muscle, where the heart cannot supply enough blood to the body. Shortness of breath and chest pains are common symptoms from this disease, exactly what Taylor had flagged as a concern.
Beckett was referred to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital after his care options at another regional hospital had been exhausted. Unfamiliar with UF Health, the Genuardi family arrived in Gainesville early on Christmas Eve of 2014.
“The level of care available at Shands has in no doubt saved our son’s life,” Taylor said. “He needed the highest level of care and that is exactly why he was sent here. We are forever grateful to Shands for saving our son’s life!”
Beckett received the Berlin Heart on January 5, 2015. A Berlin Heart is used in patients awaiting heart transplantation. This device pumps blood directly to the body improving the ability of major organs to function. Just ten days later, Beckett was able to undergo a heart transplant.
Physicians and staff members at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital earned a special place in Beckett’s and his family’s hearts.
Mark Bleiweis, M.D., Beckett’s heart surgeon and director of the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, made a profound impact on Beckett and his family. According to Taylor, Dr. Bleiweis always made the family, and especially Beckett, feel safe and positive.
“He loved Beckett like his own,” she said.
Other physicians who took great care of Beckett were Frederick J. Fricker, M.D., head of cardiology, who earned the trust of the entire family, and Joseph Philip, M.D., who called Beckett a “Beast” as an appropriate nickname for how strong he was.
Beckett is now monitored through routine laboratory workups and clinic visits, and the family has returned to life as “normal” – full of love and laughter.
“The most positive outcomes have been having him home with us, watching him hit milestones, and living a pretty regular life,” Taylor said. “Hearing his laugh and seeing his smile never gets old. Now watching him be a big brother just melts our hearts.”
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