Danny Deitz was with his Simsbury High football teammates for team pictures Wednesday night and was scheduled to flip the coin before the Trojans’ home game Friday night against East Hartford.
Thursday morning, Deitz texted coach Dave Masters to tell him plans had changed.
“He texted me and said, ‘I don’t think I can do the coin toss,’ ” Masters said. “I thought something was wrong.”
Quite the opposite. Deitz, a junior football and lacrosse player who was found to have an enlarged heart after falling ill in the spring, was summoned to Boston Children’s Hospital for a transplant. The wait was expected to take at least a few more months, so Thursday’s news was a welcome surprise.
“It’s a great day,” Masters said. “They’re pumped. They didn’t think it was really going to come and they sounded excited. It’s a little bit overwhelming. It doesn’t seem real.”
The procedure was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday but just after 7, Masters, who had been in touch with the family, said the surgery was expected to take place a little later. Family members could not be reached.
Masters said he was told the recovery time is expected to be about two weeks. Deitz’s first visit to Boston Children’s lasted 39 days. Another stay, which included open heart surgery and the implantation of a ventricular device called an LVAD, lasted 29 days. He returned home to Simsbury a little over a week ago and was expected to return to school next week while waiting for a transplant, a process that was expected to last three to eight months.
“It’s all a little overwhelming,” Masters said. “It doesn’t seem real.”
Masters said his plan is visit Deitz Monday, if Deitz is comfortable enough and allowed visitors.
Masters said word spread quickly through the Simsbury High student body and a supportive community. “Danny Strong” T-Shirts have become popular.
Deitz’s health problems began toward the end of the lacrosse season in the spring, when he was short of breath. He was treated for bronchitis. His lungs were healthy but an X-ray showed an enlarged heart.
At Boston Children’s, Deitz learned he had a genetic mutation that cause protein in the heart to attack itself. He was given Milrinone, a drug used to increase the heart’s contractibility, but it did not work properly. He was soon sick again with kidney and liver problems and fluid in his lungs.
Three-plus weeks ago, the LVAD was implanted. After recovery, he returned to Simsbury to wait on word of a transplant, knowing he had to be ready to drop everything and be in Boston within four hours when the call came. Thursday morning, it came sooner than expected.
Danny’s father, Terry Deitz, was the third-place finisher on “Survivor: Panama” in 2006, and he will appear on “Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance,” which begins airing Sept. 23.
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