Eight hours after giving birth, Amanda Eason learned her infant son had Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect.  

Amanda Eason and son Jacob encourage parents of young children facing similar challenges to reach out to groups such as Mended Little Hearts for support.

“Jacob was the first grandson in the family,” she says. “Hearing the news was devastating.”

Finding a heart

Fortunately, a donor heart became available. But soon after his transplant for, Jacob's body began rejecting the organ.

“He received treatment, and thankfully hasn't had any more episodes,” says Eason—a mother who's forever grateful to the parents who lost their son during delivery and chose to donate his heart.

“Jacob continues to see the cardiologist every four months, and will remain on anti-rejection medications the rest of his life.”

Raising awareness

Now 18, Jacob talks openly about his condition despite dealing secondary conditions that include Asperger's, chronic sinusitis and eczema.

Now a teenager, Jacob Eason remains in contact with the donor family who gave him a second chance at life.

“I love sharing my story with other kids—showing them you don't have to let it hinder you from enjoying this chance you've been given,” he says.

His mother has since found a way to give back as well, and followed through on her dream of becoming a nurse.

 “Patients appreciate knowing their fears and uncertainties are understood by someone who has experienced similar thoughts and emotions,” she explains. “I truly believe it's what I was created to do.”

Staying positive

For Jacob, who enjoys playing video games, attending Bible study and hanging out with friends, every day is a gift.

 “Living with a transplanted heart, and knowing the family of my donor, is very cool to me. I'm thankful my parents went to the ends of the world to make sure I got to live the best possible life.”

His mother Amanda, who is also the co-coordinator of Mended Little Hearts in Jacksonville, Florida, adds, “It's the worst roller coaster ride you will have ever been on, but when you have the support of others, you realize you're not alone and there is hope, even in the darkest, most difficult days.”