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Riley Baker Speck – Heart Transplant Recipient

Riley was born on October 11, 2004 in Lexington KY. He was a healthy 8lb 7oz and we were thrilled with our new bundle of joy and excited about starting our life as a family of three. We had Riley at his routine 15 month checkup when the doctor said she heard something strange about his heartbeat. She had three other doctors come in and listen and sent us to a pediatric cardiologist to get things checked out and play it safe.

After Riley saw the cardiologist and had a chest x-ray, echo and EKG, the doctor came in and told us he had some bad news. He told us that our baby boy had a rare heart condition called Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, and that he was very sick and would not live two more years unless he got a new heart. The doctor said there was no surgery or medication to help with this condition and that a heart transplant was his only hope for survival. Needless to say, my husband and I were devastated, along with the rest of our family. We were also in shock and denial.

After seeing doctors in Louisville, at Vanderbilt, and in Cincinnati, who all gave Riley the same grave diagnosis, we placed Riley on the transplant waiting list.  Ten days after being listed, Riley got his new heart at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital when he was 18 months old.

We have had our ups and downs, but overall Riley is the picture of perfect health. He is almost 7 years old now and loves karate and gymnastics! He also loves school and will be entering first grade this fall.

Organ donation has given us the most precious gift — our son, Riley. We have watched him play, laugh, and grow over these past 5 years that we wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for his donor family making that important decision to donate their loved ones organs. We are forever grateful to our donor family and continue to cherish each and every moment with have with Riley.