Keeping kids alive before transplants

FRESNO, Calif.

These days, CJ Moore is happy to be playing basketball, even if it's from the couch.

"Well, there's not much I can do right now," 10-year-old CJ Moore, told Action News.

Several months ago CJ was in much worse shape. His heart was enlarged, and doctors didn't know why.

"I was scared because I didn't know what an enlarged heart could do to a person," CJ said.

"It was a hard, hard thing to see my child, and I couldn't do anything about it," an emotional Reshella Moore, CJ's mom, told us.

CJ needed a new heart. He got on the transplant list, but to keep him alive until one was available Duke surgeon Andrew Lodge implanted a pump in his chest. It's in clinical trials for adults. CJ was only the fourth child in the U.S. to receive it.

"We had to pursue the company and the FDA to allow us to implant the device," Andrew Lodge, M.D., a cardiac pediatric surgeon at Duke University Hospitals, explained.

The battery-powered device is placed in the left ventricle and pumps blood to the aorta. It's small enough to use in some kids, and it's portable, so patients don't have to stay in the hospital. CJ wore the device for four long months. The holidays were especially hard.

"I said 'CJ, what do you want for Christmas?' He said, 'granny, I want me a heart!,'" Joan Howell, CJ's grandmother, said.

Then they finally got the call.

"I just started hollering and screaming, and he said 'mama, what's wrong?' and I said 'CJ, we got a heart!'" Reshella said.

Since the transplant CJ's getting back to normal. He's on 32 pills a day, but excited about his new heart and his new life. All made possible by a pump.

CJ will be on some of his medications for the rest of his life. Doctor Lodge says he may need one or two more heart transplants because he's so young.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Debbe Geiger
Senior Media Relations Officer
Duke Medicine Office of News and Communications
Debbe.Geiger@duke.edu
(919) 660-9461

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.