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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.”

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