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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – Estefano Reano, 14, made a singular wish for his birthday this year – a new heart.
Reano was born with a heart defect. He had only one chamber in his heart pumping blood through his body. Most of us have two chambers.
The teen from Weston underwent five surgeries in his young life and on his birthday he got the call he was waiting for.
“I took like 30 seconds and then I blew out the candles and 30 more minutes, it came true,” Estefano told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.
When that call came from the heart transplant team at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, doctors informed him that they had a juvenile heart for him. Estefano had waited two years for the heart.
“I was very surprised and very happy,” Estefano said.
Doctors operated on Estefano on November 11 and afterwards the operating team serenaded him with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
A few days later, Estefano walked out of the hospital and went home.
Estefano is the 30th heart transplant recipient at the hospital. He had stopped growing and began to have serious health problems that threatened his life.
“Without a transplant he would have died,” said Dr. Frank Scholl, Surgical Director of the Heart Transplant Program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
Three weeks after the surgery, Estefano’s ready to travel, something he hasn’t been able to do for several years because he was on a waiting list for a transplant.
“The first thing I want to do is go to Peru because of my Dad who I didn’t see for five years and I’m desperate to see him,” Estefano said.
Dr. Sholl said Estefano’s new heart works fine and that the teen’s joyful outlook on life that will help him recover.
“I think the reason why he’s here today is because he is so feisty and his personality is one of somebody that’s a survivor,” he said.
Estefano and his brother, Sebastian, and his mom, Roxana Ferguson, say their prayers were answered when Estefano received the transplant.
“I was so happy that he had his heart transplant and I was really proud of him,” Sebastian said.
But they know that for Estefano to survive, the heart donor did not.
“I feel very sorry for him since he also died and also, I’m very grateful to him,” Estefano said.
Estefano wants to encourage others to consider becoming organ donors.
“Can give people another chance, like a second chance to live the life they want,” Estefano said.
Doctors say Estefano will face few restrictions in his life but he will need regular care and checkups. His goal in life matches his outsized personality – he wants to open a sanctuary for engendered animals.