Photo courtesy of Kalah Word
Going into heart surgery once is scary enough, but going into heart surgery twice would be downright terrifying. This was a reality that senior Miguel Gomez Morales became all too familiar with, as he underwent a heart transplant in August. Even though the first surgery was not successful, the second one was and he was able to receive a strong, beating heart.
When Morales was three years old, he was diagnosed with arrhythmia and severe tachycardia. For ten years, he was controlled with a pacemaker and medication, but eventually his heart started losing strength. According to his parents, Miguel Gomez and Luz Morales, the doctor recommended a heart transplant because his heart was tired, swollen, and could not continue working on its own.
Morales has been one of the most vocal, vibrant members of LCM Team Force and is well-loved among all of his peers. According to teacher Kalah Word, he is very outgoing and energetic and loves to answer questions and make presentations in front of the rest of the class. He is also excited about eventually returning to school and seeing all of his classmates. If everything goes as planned, Morales will return to school in April.
While he has been out of school, Morales has been able to FaceTime his classmates from home and the hospital. When he joins a Zoom with the rest of his class and teachers, Word said his face lights up and he goes on and on about how much he misses school and cannot wait to come back.
“He is recovering little by little,” Gomez said. “This is a process that takes time. He is attending physical and occupational therapies. He is missing school, of course. He never liked losing a day of school but his condition worsened and it was necessary for his health. He misses his teachers and his classmates, but his cardiologist said it will take him a few more months before he can return.”
At a recent pep rally, the student body showed their support for Morales as he and his family watched from outside the fence at the stadium. The entire school was led in a cheer dedicated to Morales and the cheerleaders and football players presented him with a signed helmet and megaphone.
“The pep rally meant the world to him and his family,” Word said. “They even came in matching shirts! Receiving the helmet with his name on it and all of the signatures as well as the megaphone with the cheerleader’s signatures gave him the biggest smile that we all miss seeing so much!”
Throughout everything Morales has faced, he has always maintained a positive attitude and has never let anything bring him down, not even when his body rejected his first heart and he had to use an artificial one.
“The fact that a heart with the perfect blood type and perfect size not only came ONCE but TWICE in just one week is a true miracle,” Word said. “His family gives all the glory to God!”
According to his parents, they feel blessed to have him after all he has had to go through over the past few months.
“We felt a little relaxed knowing that it was the best option for him,” Gomez said. “Although the transplant is not a cure, it has been the best option for my son. We are more than blessed that he is still here.”