An 11-year-old boy who has endured numerous open-heart surgeries and has spent months in Chicago recovering from a heart transplant returned home this week to a big welcome gathering from the community.
Andrew Iseminger was born with three heart defects, and at just 3 days old underwent his first open-heart surgery. He needed another big procedure at the age of 5 to replace a valve he'd outgrown.
His mother, Amber Iseminger of Dover, Minnesota, has been chronicling their journey on a Caring Bridge page, detailing the joyous highs as well as the challenging periods. In August of 2020, Andrew went in for his third open-heart surgery. But his recovery didn't go as planned.
When doctors tried to ween take off the bypass machine following the procedure, Andrew's heart struggled. For days, doctors attempted to turn things around. On Sept. 1, 2020, Amber wrote:
Around 6pm, we met with Andrew’s two surgeons. They talked about everything that has gone on and then hit us with a ton of bricks. “We’d like to talk about listing Andrew for a transplant”. Wow, if that isn’t a punch to the gut. I feel like we’ve just been pushed from behind and kicked over and over again.
Andrew spent the next few months at the Mayo Clinic, and in mid-December was flown to Chicago to await a heart transplant.
As Andrew has battled, the community has rallied. The school district's parent-guardian group helped raise funds for the family last fall through various sales. Residents have requested prayers for Andrew in church. A Go Fund Me for the family raised more than $8,000.
On Jan. 24, Andrew received good news: A heart was available. The following day, he had a successful transplant. That's where he's been for the past six months, rehabbing and recovering.
On June 22, doctors gave him permission to return home to Minnesota, and on Wednesday he did just that. Here's some video of the moment, provided by the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office:
Dover residents lined the street, holding signs and waving as Andrew was escorted to his home by the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office and Dover Fire Department.
"We are thankful you’re home now, Andrew! We pray for strength and continued success with your recovery! You’re strong and you’re awesome!" the sheriff's office wrote on Facebook.
Andrew will need to return to Chicago in a couple of weeks for a check-up, and there are more appointments in the future.
But for now, he's home where he belongs.