Sixteen years ago, I reported on a newborn baby in Polk County who underwent a heart transplant to save his life. At 16, Garrett Leopold is undergoing his second heart transplant at Shands Hospital.
"It will take about eight hours," Garrett's mother, Susan Leopold texted. "Thanks for your prayers."
Garrett's family credits their faith for keeping him alive.
"Even though you've gone through a valley, there's no guarantee that there's not a couple more valleys down the way," Susan told me last December, as the family prepared to spend Christmas in Garrett's hospital room.
Heart transplant doctors at Shands tell me transplanted hearts are only expected to last 15 to 20 years. That means other teenagers who underwent infant heart transplants when the procedure was new, will likely need second transplants as well.
The Leopolds have become outspoken advocates for organ donation.
"Every night I say a prayer for Garrett, and in that prayer we say a prayer for the family that would have to go through that situation," Susan added.
Under transplant protocol, doctors harvested the heart from a patient who was brain-dead and was similar in size to Garrett. The heart was rushed to Gainesville late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
Doctors expect Garrett to come through the procedure well. They say his recovery should take two to three weeks.
I'll be Tweeting any updates through @lloydsowers.