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State’s first child heart transplant recipient needs new kidneys | New York Post

State’s first child heart transplant recipient needs new kidneys | New York Post

By Gary BuisoJune 8, 2014 | 12:52am

This guy’s all heart.

It’s been 30 years since Jason Blatter became the first child in New York to receive a heart transplant, and he marked the June 5 milestone with something he’s become all too familiar with over the years — a doctor’s visit.

The medicine he was taking so his body wouldn’t reject the foreign organ has crippled his kidneys, and now he needs a new one.

Despite the grave news, Blatter, 44, is no quitter.

“No way — I’ve already been through hell,” he told The Post.

Originally from Orangeburg in Rockland County, Blatter, now lives in Fort Lee, NJ. He was born with a congenital defect that left holes in the walls of his heart’s chambers.

Doctors tried to treat him — his first surgery was at age 2. Many procedures would follow — cardiologists tried to replace a defective tricuspid valve in his heart when he was 10, but the organ continued to grow weaker.

He was then diagnosed with cardiomyopathy — an enlarged heart with diminished pumping ability — and it was obvious a new heart was the only hope.

In 1984, doctors gave Blatter, then 14 and weighing just 60 pounds, a 40 percent chance of surviving the 12-hour operation at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Yet he beat the odds. “I felt terrific when I woke up,” he recalled.

He did his best to live a normal life. He worked at an electronics store, moved to Chicago for a bit.

But he was diagnosed with heart failure in 2003, and three years later, had a second heart transplant performed at Columbia-Presbyterian.

“I felt like a new person,” he said.

Last year, the kidney problems started, and he’s been enduring four-hour dialysis treatments three times a week.

He’s low on organ-donor lists, yet as always is optimistic. “Once I get my kidney I can restart my life again,” he said.

Blatter — an avid harness racing fan who collects toaster ovens and lunch boxes — is always quick with a laugh.

“When people ask him what he does, he says, ‘I’m a professional patient — my job is to survive,’” said his brother Michael Blatter, 50. “When you meet Jason you realize the things we contend with day to day are not really that important.”

via State’s first child heart transplant recipient needs new kidneys | New York Post.

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