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A Good Heart

12/18/2017

While most teenagers worry about school and social lives, Brett Wallick, 15, worried whether he would live to graduate high school. In December 2013, Brett visited the doctor for what his parents, Scott and Carla Wallick, thought was a severe cold. It turned out to be more serious. The doctor informed the Wallicks that Brett’s heart was enlarged and beating nearly two times faster than a normal heart.

Everything in Brett’s life changed quickly. Brett was immediately admitted into Phoenix Children’s Hospital and, just ten days later, doctors inserted a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that would help pump blood through Brett’s body and keep him alive until a new heart was available. What followed was an agonizing three-month wait for Brett to receive the gift that would save his life.

“We watched him basically die a little bit every day for the first five to ten days,” says Scott.

The Call That Saved His Life

In late March, the call the family had been waiting for finally came: a donor heart was available for Brett. Scott and Carla were excited but mindful of the fact that another family had just experienced a tremendous loss. The surgery went off without a hitch and Brett woke up the next morning with a new lease on life.

That same day, Scott began writing a letter to the family of the donor. He promised to make the most of the life that Brett was given and expressed the hope that the Wallick family could someday hear about their loved one. Surprisingly, Scott’s request had already been fulfilled. Among the information that the hospital had been given about Brett’s donor heart was a letter written by the donor’s family.

The letter, simple yet heartfelt, stated that Brett’s donor was a son, a brother and a father who always wanted to help others. That letter now hangs in a frame in Brett’s closet and is the first thing he sees each morning when getting dressed.

“I think about him every day, no matter what I’m doing,” says Brett. “Everything I do, I make sure I’m doing it for my donor and his family.”

Today, Brett focuses on living his life to the fullest in honor of his second chance. The Wallick family are now lifelong supporters of organ donation.

“Check the box, become a donor, 100 percent,” says Scott.

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