6-year-old boy receives gift of life after 4 years on heart transplant list

WORCESTER — A six-year-old Worcester boy who has been waiting for a heart for four years received the gift of life Friday.

“This is surreal,” Carlos Rolon’s mother, Sheena Cossette told Boston 25 News. “He’s doing great… Doctors and nurses are happy. They say he’s a fighter.”

Carlos was still in intensive care Monday but getting stronger every day, Cossette said.

When she was finally able to see her son, she noticed his color was normal and his oxygen was at 100 percent for the first time in his life.

Carlos was born with unbalanced atrioventricular canal defect, an abnormality of one of the four chambers of his heart. By the age of two, he had had four open heart surgeries and was put on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

On Aug. 31, Carlos was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital with an infection. Doctors told his family he would not be able to go home until he received a new heart.

Last week – more than seven months after Carlos was admitted to the hospital – Cossette posted a video on Facebook, sharing how she and Carlos’s father broke the news to their little boy about his new heart.

“They think they found you a heart,” Cossette told Carlos at his bedside. “You could have a new heart by tomorrow morning.”

Carlos, visibly shocked in the video, asks, “Is it going to hurt?”

Before surgery could take place, both Carlos and the donor were tested for coronavirus, Cossette said. Once testing was complete, surgeons successfully transplanted the heart into Carlos’s little body.

“God is so good,” Cossette wrote on Facebook. “I felt Carlos move for the first time. The chest tubes are all out.”

Cossette has been outspoken about organ donation, encouraging others to consider giving the gift of life. But she knows her family’s miracle was only made possible by another family’s tragedy.

“God bless the donor and his family,” Cossette wrote.

Boston 25 News first introduced Carlos to viewers last year, sharing his request for people to send him Christmas cards in the hospital to decorate his room. The story went viral, and Carlos received thousands of cards and gifts from around the world.

Cossette is now asking for something else – prayers. As Carlos gets stronger each day, Cossette turns to her family, friends and social media community to lift them up in prayer.