4-year-old with artificial heart waits for transplant

Posted at: 12/23/2013 8:27 AM
Updated at: 12/25/2013 10:48 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There is a Hulk stocking hung, and a Hulk toy under the tree. But the little boy it's all for isn't there.

"Went to school, started Pre-K, and then he just got sick," the boy's grandmother Debbie Montoya said.

Debbie says the day before Halloween this year, 4-year-old Junior just wasn't himself. When his mom took him to the ER, they found a much bigger problem.

"The doctor did an x-ray and found that his heart was enlarged," Debbie said.

Junior was quickly airlifted to UNM Hospital, where they decided his heart needed specialized care. When he got to the Denver Children's Hospital, his heart stopped. After days on life support, he came back and doctors were able to perform surgery to get him on an artificial heart.

"He's a fighter. He's a fighter," Debbie said.

That may be why he likes the Hulk so much. But this little superhero can't fight this alone. His parents set up a website to get him and his family help. It's titled "A Heart for Hulk."

Debbie says people have been so generous. The family has received more than $5,000 dollars so far. That is going to pay their bills while neither parent is able to work right now. But they will need so much more, especially after Junior gets his transplant. Though they don't know when that day will come.

"They said anywhere between weeks, and months...or even years," Debbie said.

The artificial heart he has now will only last three years. So every day, Junior plays and waits for a donor. Back in Santa Fe, his Christmas gifts are waiting, along with his family.

"This Christmas is going to be hard. But as a family, we've become stronger I think, and learned to just be grateful that my grandson is still here," she said.

Debbie has organized a benefit dance to raise money. It will be held at the Locker Room on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe Friday, December 27th from 7 pm to 11 pm. It costs $10 dollars a ticket. If you would just like to donate to the website, visit http://www.gofundme.com/5cegsg.