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Youngest coronary heart recipient at St. Louis Kids's Hospital celebrates 30 years with donor coronary heart

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — A St. Louis man is celebrating a huge milestone this fall, at the same time St. Louis Children’s Hospital also marks an important achievement.

Thirty years ago, Brett Meyers was just a couple months old when he got a heart transplant at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. At the time, he was the youngest patient at Children’s to undergo a procedure like that.

Meyers was born missing part of his left ventricle. At the time of his procedure, doctors had only been doing heart transplants in adults for less than 20 years.

“It was very overwhelming, and very scary to go through everything because at that time, unfortunately, kids born with hypoplastic left, not too many of them made it. So, we were fortunate to live in St. Louis and have Children’s on hand,” said Susan Meyers, Brett’s mom.

“Back in the 80s, we didn’t know a lot about solid organ transplant in children, period. So, we were extrapolating things that the adults were doing,” said Dr. Charles Canter, the pediatric cardiologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital who coordinated Meyer’s care at the time.

Canter said, at that time, they were just hoping to get ten years out of Meyer’s donor heart. Now, 30 years later, Meyers is happy, active, working and volunteering.

“Brett is a poster child for heart transplant. He’s done extremely well. Thirty years is a wonderful milestone. That’s a very long time to be living with another organ. We’ve generally seen our outcomes with heart transplant have continued to get better,” said Dr. Joel Schilling, Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital who now overseas Meyer’s cardiology care as an adult.

Meyers’ family continues to be grateful for all the medical support over all these years, as well as to the family of the donor. 

“I think one of the big things is, for those who are on the donating side, we are so fortunate that at your time of grief, that you thought to go ahead and donate the organs of your loved one so that someone, a family like ours, could benefit. And now, thirty years later, he is still doing well and enjoying life and having fun,” said Susan Meyers.

That is important to keep in mind as the hospital marks a recent accomplishment. According to a St. Louis Children’s Hospital spokesperson, the hospital’s heart transplant program, in the past year, had a 100 percent pediatric survival rate, successfully transplanting hearts in 41 young patients.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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