Elyjah “Zak” Mortensen received his beautiful gift of life from his heart donor on August 31, 2014 at the age of 10. Zak has been tremendously responsible in ensuring his heart was well cared for and up until now, he has never experienced any episodes of rejection or complications.
Unfortunately, all that changed on December 29, 2020. On Christmas Eve, 2020, Zak started to feel a “thump” in his chest which was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Writing it off to anxiety he continued in his normal fashion - with strength and perseverance. It all became unbearable on the morning of the 29th when he found it increasingly harder to breathe.
After heading to Las Palmas in El Paso, they found fluid around his heart and in his lungs causing decreased function and a very weak right side of his beautiful heart. His BNP was at 900 (normal is under 100) and for a scary two hours, he was in v-tach at 170bpm. Zak was then life-flighted to Houston to see his team at Texas Children’s Hospital.
It was determined he is in 2R acute cellular rejection AND antibody mediated rejection. His heart is very sick. He’s undergoing treatment with ATG, plasmapheresis, rituximab and major steroids. Zak and his mom are in Houston alone with no family and no resources. She is struggling to work and maintain his treatments and take care of herself. Anything helps ease the situation, and is so appreciated by our entire family. Thank you all so much.
Update: Dr. Hari in the Heart Transplant Team let us know today once the dust settles we will be released from the hospital (in about two week) but we will be required to stay in the area for a month before we can repeat our heart cath. I’ve updated the goal amount to reflect the longer stay, the food requirement and the need for clothes and living supplies. Thank you all so much for your support, it means the world to our family. ❤️
Update: Zak is making steps towards getting better each day. The doctors have said they feel like he has 30+ pounds of fluid on him and he’s already lost 12 of those, so we are moving in the right direction. They did find what appears to be pneumonia in his sputum so we are starting some major antibiotics to make sure that doesn’t get worse. We are currently running our third dose of plasmapheresis right now and ATG will follow it. We have had some kind people donate clothes and a blanket (Thank you Hunt with Heart) and a few people who have generously offered to purchase food for me. We are also upping the donation limit since we are going to need to purchase a bipap machine prior to being released from the hospital. Thank you all so very much.
- Catherine Durkin
- Atticus Johnson
- Katherine Andriole
- Tara Grandich
Organizer and beneficiary
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