I Heart Rylan

I Heart Rylan
By: Dakotah Michael Karrer

When someone talks about heart health the foremost aspect that jumps to the front of everyone’s mind is if their heart is physically healthy or not. Over the last year and a half I have learned that a healthy heart has many more characteristics than physical capability. A healthy heart is one that has enough loving and caring people around it so that person knows they are surrounded by infinite love and it allows that individual to care for others in a way that is indescribable.

On September 30, 2011 my younger brother was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, which is a very rare form of a heart disease, and even more rare among children. At the time he was diagnosed he was only 8 years old and his doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas had only seen one case like it before, and it was in an adult; they said it truly makes him one in a million. This disease restricts his ventricles and stiffens up their walls which doesn’t allow for enough blood to flow regularly throughout his body, the doctors informed us that heart surgery would not be enough and that he will have to undergo a heart transplant that will cost well over 1 million dollars after all the expenses are totaled. This was very shocking news to us, just a week before he was a normal 8 year old boy playing baseball and now he can’t walk 20 yards without it causing his heart too much stress. After all the tests and financial aspects were set up my younger brother Rylan was added to the heart transplant list on October 8, 2011 and we have been waiting ever since for the phone call that a heart has become available. With being on the transplant list it means that my brother cannot be more than an hour away from Houston or he will be removed from the list; he also can’t attend school because he cannot accept a new heart if he is sick, so his teachers have volunteered to come out to our house to teach him. This has led to my family spending much more time together since we are unable to leave and we like to cherish every second we have together as a family. My family and I have been impacted by this in a way which is indescribable; it has brought us much closer together and taught us to take nothing for granted because it can change within the blink of an eye. While my brother may not have a healthy heart physically, we know that he has a perfectly “healthy” heart because of the love for life and family he shows every day. While this whole experience has brought my family together it has also brought my community closer as well and has demonstrated how much they care for us every day. Almost 5 years ago we moved to Montgomery, Texas from central Oregon but even though we moved quite a while ago our old town has shown such great support for my brother and our family. Both here in Texas and up in Oregon our community has helped us in many different ways form holding fundraisers to sacrificing time out of their day to come spend time with my brother. These aren’t the only ways people have shown support for my brother and my family; my parents created a Facebook page called “I Heart Rylan” and over 18,000 people have liked it from all over the globe. Everyday people post on his Facebook wall that they are thinking of him and praying for him to get better and showing endless support to someone they have never met in their life. Having so many thousands of complete strangers showing their endless support has shown that you don’t have to know someone all that well to truly care for them and their well-being.

Even though my family and younger brother know that his heart is not physically healthy compared to your heart or mine, I know that he still has one of the healthiest hearts I have ever seen. My brother has shown infinite love, caring, and compassion for everyone around him all while being faced with such adverse conditions and this has rubbed off on my whole family. His heart has touched the lives of so many people in my community, my family, and even complete strangers that we can’t help but be impacted by the never-ending cycle of sympathy, kindheartedness, and love we feel from those around us.