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.
When Connor Marvin heard from his doctors Wednesday that he would have to wait through the weekend to be released from the hospital, he was visibly upset.
“I want to beat everyone’s time out of here,” Marvin had said a few moments earlier while lying his bed during an interview with the Valley News. “I want to beat Brock’s time out of here. For me, it’s a fun competition.”
Marvin, 16, continued to recover from heart transplant surgery, the same that his brother had gone through 15 months prior at Children’s Hospital of Boston.
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.
He was checked throughout the day by staff members who monitored his vitals, once getting up to be weighed.
He also received the visit from his doctors, who broke the news that he was not going to be released Friday, as he had hoped, advising him that they wanted to make sure he left under the most ideal conditions.
Throughout it all, Connor said there had been plenty of highs and lows in the week that followed his transplant surgery.
“I was able to get up, walk around and go outside yesterday,” Marvin said. “I have got nothing attached to me anymore, and they are going to pull the final pacer wires by Friday.”
“Day two he was up and walking and day three he was out of ICU,” Connor’s father, Walter “Smitty” Marvin, said.
“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 had also had a rough morning, as his body and stomach continued to adjust to the medications, causing nausea and vomiting.
“He gets stronger as the day goes on,” Smitty 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,” Smitty 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 has 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.
Smitty also talked about the support that he has received from family, friends and those who are also on “Floor Eight” at the hospital — the cardiology floor.
“The people in Elizabethtown and all over Essex County have been a great support throughout this whole thing,” he said. “Here, it has been good to know people that are going through the same things and are keeping their head high.”
During the conversation, a 4-year old girl rode past Connor’s door on a tricycle. He explained that she, too, had just received a heart transplant.
“She’s really strong,” he said. “To see someone who is that young go through the same thing and come out perfect was inspiring.”
Connor also said the staff had become a strong support.
“The nurses become family and the doctors will come in an hang out a while,” he said.
“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.”