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Caden-Heart Recipient

Caden and Tommy GarrettWhen her son Caden went on the transplant waiting list for a new heart, “I never thought we’d wait more than six or seven months,” says his mother, Traci Miller.

Seven months passed, and the family had not received the call.  After waiting 9 months, Caden was put into the hospital in Nashville.  90 minutes away from where Traci and her family lived.  The family continued to wait.

Fighting for Life
Caden’s need for a transplant came up suddenly when he developed restrictive cardiomyopathy.  Restrictive cardiomyopathy is when the heart does not pump blood strongly. The abnormal heart function can affect the lungs, liver, and other body systems.  Traci was told that Caden’s is a one-in-a-million variation of the disease.

Traci was already a registered organ donor before Caden’s transplant, “just because it seemed like a good thing to do.” She never knew how it would affect her life and the life of her young son.

Traci recalls the long hospital stay at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, watching Caden become sicker.  She recalls the other children who lost their fight.  They did not get their opportunity for a life-saving transplant.

The Most Precious Gift
After waiting 13 months, the life-saving call finally came.  Caden’s life would be saved.  Traci says recalls, “The call came at noon, and by 3, Caden was in surgery.”

Her amazing son had received this most precious and vital gift.  His heart was beating strongly, and his life could truly begin.

“People just don’t talk about organ donation enough,” she says. “They don’t know much about it.  It hits home that you have a sick kid, and you’re in the hospital with him, waiting for a heart.”

Traci is now an advocate for the cause.  She connected with the KY Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust For Life through Metcalfe County Circuit Clerk Tommy Garrett.  She has known Tommy since childhood and remembers him being at the ballpark when the call came in.  The incredible call that someone had chosen to save her son’s life.


New Heart, New Life
Traci has had the opportunity to meet her donor’s generous family.  She has learned that they had questions about the process of organ donation and, for a moment, almost didn’t go through with it.  They had common fears of how their loved one would be treated through the process of donation.  However, after learning that their loved one would be treated with the utmost respect and that an open-casket funeral is possible, they said yes.  With those words, they saved Caden’s life.

Since his transplant, Caden’s life has improved immensely.  Once upon a time, he’d turn blue when he ran, so he rarely did. “If you saw him now, you’d never guess anything was wrong with him,” Traci says.

“We were told our little boy would not live till 5 years old without a transplant. He turned 5 this summer.  That was a big milestone that we wouldn’t have reached without a huge gift.  We could not have ever gotten this far without (organ donation).”