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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sixteen-year-old Timothy Jones reunited with surgeons at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital who gave him a second chance at a healthy life.

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“Thank you. You basically saved my life to be honest,” Jones said.

Timothy suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy. It’s a disease that prevents the heart from effectively pumping blood. His family was alerted after going to the ER when he was sick for days.

“Stomach pains, chest pain, diarrhea, sort of cold or flu-like symptoms,” Jones said.

Doctors say the symptoms don’t mean every child will need surgery.

“It doesn’t mean that your child has stomach pain and vomiting, they need a heart transplant. If the stomach issues go on for a considerable amount of time, more than a day or two, they need someone to look at them,” Dr. Maryanne Chrisant said.

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Timothy is the 50th pediatric heart transplant at the children’s hospital in Hollywood. The program that’s been around for 8 years. Timothy waited two months for a transplant. Currently, there are eight people in line after him. The youngest is a three-year-old and the oldest is 23.
Doctors need help so they are not waiting a while.

“There’s definitely a shortage of donor organs,” Dr. Frank Scholl said.

Doctors say Timothy had to wait for a heart with the right blood type, size, and condition and his replacement process lasted 50 minutes back on December 1st. His aunt held back tears looking at how he recovered so quickly.

“To make the decision to give a pet of your loved one to save someone else, we thank you,” Marcia Wise said.

Doctors won’t reveal anything about the donor. However, Timothy says he will forever be grateful to that person and their family.

To the donor, I would just like to say thank you for giving me a second chance at life even if you had to give yours up,” Jones said.

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Since there is a waiting list for people in south Florida, the CEO says she plans to expand the program to be able to care for more teens and kids.