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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In less than a year 18-year-old Darius Redd went from being a 260 pound high school football and basketball player, the picture of health, to a 100-pound-lighter teen who relied on a cane to walk. His heart had failed him, but Monday, that failure turned to hope.
“It’s been a bumpy road, I really don’t remember much,” he said.
Last June after getting sick at football camp, Darius was rushed from his small Florida town of Clewiston to the doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital and University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for help.
“He was extremely sick because of the heart failure, he wasn’t able to breathe on his own and required mechanical ventilation, his kidneys shut down and the liver also shut down,” said Dr. Paolo Rusconi, medical director of Holtz Children Hospital’s Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program.
Doctors believe a virus caused the once-healthy teen’s heart failure.
“I kind of knew something was going on but it really didn’t feel like it. I used to run and be in shape like most of the time so it really didn’t affect me,” said Darius.
Dr. Rusconi says he had a severe reaction to the virus.
“It’s a relatively common virus that in some occasions may target directly the heart and cause damage to the heart to a very severe point.”
After three artificial heart surgeries, Darius and his family got the call they’d been praying for. Doctors had a new heart and new kidney for Darius thanks to an organ donor. He received the surgery in February and was released Monday afternoon from the hospital. His father Eddie Redd thanked the doctors and the people of Clewiston.
“I can guarantee you 85-percent of the people were praying for Darius and you’re seeing what prayer can do,” said Eddie.
Though it’s not clear whether Darius will ever be able to play ball for the University of Florida like he’d dreamed, he’s learned how strong he really is.
“Sometimes they thought I really wasn’t going to make it but I’m still here.”
Supporters in Clewiston are throwing a celebrity basketball tournament in the small Florida town this weekend to help raise money for Darius’ medical care.