WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES --It's been a yearlong adventure for a boy who doctors said would not have survived his first month if he didn't receive a donor heart.
Dravyn Johnson is the second young heart transplant patient at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital. His mother thinks about her son's donor family every single day.
"He looks up and he plays with someone and I would say that's his donor baby, his angel," Nicole Eggleston, Dravyn's mother said.
Dr. Juan Alejos, director of UCLA's pediatric heart transplant program, said Dravyn was born with a serious congenital heart defect. Alejos said it's a condition most babies wouldn't survive and any surgery to correct it is risky.
"Most people have two pumping chambers and he had only one. The blood vessels that feed the heart, the coronary arteries, were being stolen to another part of his heart," Alejos explained.
The average wait for an infant heart is at least six months. But in just two days, a match was found for the then 23-day-old Dravyn.
"The heart is small, but even smaller than that are the blood vessels you're connecting," Alejos said.
A year after the challenging and delicate procedure, Dravyn is hardly using any anti-rejection drugs. His doctors said his heart scans look perfect.
Eggleston said she remembers how she and Dravyn struggled at the hospital, so she's starting her own non-profit group called Moms for Moms Advocate to help other single mothers get through their hospital stays.
"Those mothers really need hotel vouchers, parking assistance, food cards, those things are really costly," Eggleston said.
Eggleston made it through the struggle and said every day is a blessing. Above all, she hopes Dravyn's story will encourage organ donation at every age.
If you're interested in learning how to contribute to Eggleston's non-profit group, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.