Connor Marvin sits on his hospital bed while Jennifer Gilande, center, talks with he and his parents, Darlene Mitchell (left of Gilande) and Walter "Smitty" Marvin, III, about the medicine that the 16-year old now has to take.
Over the past two years, two brothers have received the gift of life from anonymous sources.
In December of 2010, Brock Marvin received the heart he desperately needed at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. His brother, Connor, witnessed the ordeal, knowing that he, too, would be in that same position.
Late in 2011, Connor started his time at the hospital, waiting for the call to come that he would also be the recipient of a heart transplant.
At around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, Connor underwent that heart transplant surgery.
A short time later, the Valley News visited Connor and his family at the hospital. Marvin’s room on the eighth floor of the hospital was a revolving door of medical staff, as he spent the day March 8 learning about infectious diseases and the medication that he would have to take, some for the next few months and other for the rest of his life.
“The biggest issue has been adjusting to the medications and just the pain after the surgery,” Marvin said. “The first couple of days, I could not get up on my own.”
“He was so out of it those first days,” Connor’s mother, Darlene Mitchell, said.
Connor said the biggest challenge through it all was the time that he spent at the hospital waiting for the heart to come in.
“That was the big difference,” Walter “Smitty” Marvin said. “He had to be here for three and-a-half months, and Brock only had to be here 11 days.”
“The wait definitely was the hardest part about everything,” Connor said. “In reality, 105 days is a normal time frame but in comparison to my brother, that was a long time.”
Connor said his brother Brock had been a key inspiration in his recovery. Both boys suffer from a rare inherited heart condition known as familial dilated cardiomyopathy.
“He (Brock) came down the day before and sat here and we just talked for a couple of hours,” Connor said. “He just kept saying that this was the best place in the world for me to be and that I should not be worried. He also kept telling me to look where he is now, I mean, he’s back out on the soccer field and doing everything, and that I was going to be there soon and get to be a normal kid again.”
“Brock was as happy when this was over as anyone,” Smitty said. “They have a real special bond after going through this.”
“Brock loves him more than anything,” Mitchell added.
“He has been a great patient and both boys and the family have just been great,” Heather Bastardi, a heart transplant coordinator at the hospital, said. “It is not common at all for this type of situation to happen, and it has been great to watch both of their stories unfold. They definitely have different personalities, and their parents have been great through all of the difficulties that they and the kids are dealing with.”
Marvin slowly returned to the normal life of a high school student, returning to Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School April 23.
“It is a lot more refreshing than the big buildings and pavement, my home is the small buildings and the grass,” Connor said at the time. “Boston’s a great city, but it’s no Elizabethtown.”
Marvin also returned to the golf course, where he was a key member of the Elizabethtown-Lewis Lions’ second place finish at the Section VII golf championships, the highest finish in school history. Both Connor and Brock made it to the second day of the tournament with a chance to make the team that would represent Section VII in the state tournament. Brock made the team with a two day total of 169, while the stress and strain of the Westport Country Club layout and he continuing road to recovery caught up with Connor, who finished with a two-day score of 176, four shots off the pace for a state spot.
“Not only was it awesome to see him out there, but to see him in contention through 27 holes was amazing,” Brock said. “The meds that you take make you shaky and you are still tired after laying in a hospital bed for so long, but he played through that. I’m sure this was a huge boost for him and he will be doing just fine next year.”
“I played well the first day,” Connor said. “I made putts on the first day, but then they were not falling. It’s good to be playing and good to be back.”
“He is eight weeks out of the hospital and had not done more then nine holes before this 36-hole event,” Smitty Marvin, who coached the golf team, said. “His golf game has been there and he proved it. It’s a dream come true to see them both out on the course healthy and in contention for the state team and individual title.”