Connor Marvin of Elizabethtown underwent heart transplant surgery starting at around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 1.
For the second time in just over a year, a local family has reason to be grateful for the gift of organ donation.
At around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, Elizabethtown-Lewis student Connor Marvin, 16, underwent heart transplant surgery at the Boston Children’s Hospital. His older brother, Brock, had undergone the same procedure at the same hospital Dec. 11, 2010.
“He had a successful surgery during the night and it was a good operation,” Connor’s father, Walter “Smitty” Marvin III, said. “Obviously, you are nervous with what your son and you are about to go through, but he is now recovering and it’s good knowing that he is well over the hump and on his way to being as strong as his brother is.”
Marvin has been spending time in an apartment while Connor has been at the hospital, something that he also did with Brock.
Denny Mitchell, Connor’s stepfather, spoke on behalf of himself and Connor’s mother, Darlene.
“She’s very happy right now,” Mitchell said. “We were on pins and needles for every phone call because you were hopeful. Then, Connor called us last night to tell his mom that it was happening, and we drove all the way down in four-wheel drive to get here.”
Mitchell described Connor as, “anxious” to get the surgery started when they arrived at the hospital. He was even more tense when the scheduled midnight operation time was pushed back over four hours.
“We got the call that the operation was going to happen around 11:30 a.m.,” Smitty said. “We thought that the operation was going to happen around midnight, but as we have found out, the time table on something like this can get pushed back, and we went down about 4:30 a.m.”
Marvin said this was the third time that they were informed of a potential heart that would match Connor.
“They wanted the perfect, right one, so they waved the first two off,” Marvin said. “You get nervous because the hospital here only does 12-16 heart transplants a year, and they just waved off two, but the doctors are saying that this heart is a great match, and it is strong.”
Family and friends had been tracking Connor’s developing story on Facebook, where both he and his father left updates.
At about 1 a.m., Connor posted the following message of Facebook:
“Thanks for all the love guys! I'll do great and pull through for all of you... No one has to worry though cause I've got this one. For my friends, family, supporters..., this one’s for you.”
Seven hours later, his father sent out this message:
“That's it. We have a heartbeat. We are on our way. Look out world my boys are back!”
“He is in ICU and the surgeon said that the heart is very strong,” Mitchell said. “He told us that everything turned out okay.”
Marvin has been at the Boston Children’s Hospital through all of 2012 and into last year, when he returned for a brief visit home during the holidays, awaiting a heart transplant needed due to familial dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that was also the catalyst behind his brother’s transplant surgery in 2010.
“Can you imagine,” Mitchell said about the families ordeal of double heart transplant surgeries. “It just doesn’t seem possible. It certainly has been stressful on Darlene and all of us, and Connor’s heart was expanding and getting worse. He was in the hospital for so long, he was ready for this.”
Smitty Marvin said he spent part of the morning reflecting on what will soon be four years of dealing with the challenges of the health issue his two sons were facing.
“Brock’s heart attack was on April 28, 2008,” Marvin said. “When we get back to the North Country from rehab, it will be just about at that same date. It has been four years since I have had two healthy sons, and it is quite a feeling.”
Marvin also said that, for the second time, his heart went out to a family who, while the Marvins and Mitchells are celebrating, were mourning.
“You sit here and think to yourself how lucky you are, but know that at the same time there is another family that is making funeral arrangements today,” Marvin said. “Thanks to these families and their gracious acts, both of my guys were given the chance that they needed.”