Changed in the blink of an eye: the lives of two families intertwined around tragedy and a transplant | News, Sports, Jobs

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This undated photo shows Christopher Brazell. After she died at age 8, her heart was donated to 4-year-old Jon Hochstein, a recent graduate of Harvard Medical School.

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This undated photo shows Jon Hochstein in a hospital bed at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Hochstein received a donated heart at age 4 from Christopher Brazell, who was killed by a speeding truck in Wendover.

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This undated photo shows Jon Hochstein and his family graduating from Harvard Medical School. Hochstein received a donated heart at age 4 from Christopher Brazell, who was killed by a speeding truck in Wendover.

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This photo collage shows moments from the life of Jon Hochstein, who received a heart when he was 4 years old.

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SALT LAKE CITY – Twenty-three years ago, Elisabeth Brazell was walking the halls of Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital trying to come to terms with the loss of her 8-year-old son, Christopher, when she saw two little dangling feet to coverage in the pediatric intensive care unit.

After asking a nurse what was wrong with the little patient, she was told the 4-year-old boy named Jon Hochstein was expecting a heart donor. His condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, was so severe that he was placed on life support.

“Right now you’re just overwhelmed with the loss of your brother and your son,” Christopher’s sister April Hough said at a press conference Wednesday. “But once my mum saw Jon, she thought if Christopher’s death could help anyone else, we should.”

Christopher was hit by a speeding truck while driving through a school zone in Wendover. His injuries were too numerous and severe for him to survive. His mother initially decided she didn’t want to donate her organs, but seeing Jon changed her mind. The family donated his heart to Jon and his liver and kidneys to other children in need of transplants.

Because his heart was swelling in his chest cavity, it turned out that there was enough space for Christopher’s heart to fit snugly.

“Unlike adults, children normally have to get an organ from someone who is around the same age and size as them,” said Rose Linsler, a nurse practitioner who was Jon’s bedside nurse. . “After watching everything Jon had been through, we just needed this one last thing to work. He was just this adorable, curly-haired little boy who lived in pediatric intensive care and everyone loved and adored him.

After receiving Christopher’s heart, Hochstein made a full recovery. However, in 2003, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affected his immune system. After a year of treatment, her body started rejecting her heart. Doctors quickly gave him new immunosuppressive drugs that helped him overcome the failure.

Today, 27-year-old Hochstein is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and has just entered residency at Boston Children’s Hospital. He plans to specialize in heart transplant care.

“I tell people that I wanted to be a doctor since I was 4 because of the experience at Primary Children’s Hospital,” Hochstein said. “I didn’t understand what the doctors were doing. I just knew I wanted to grow and help people the way they helped me.

Two years ago, Hochstein and his family were connected to Christopher’s family for the first time – and they were able to listen to his heartbeat.

“It was like running home from the playground,” Hough said. “Losing Christopher was heartbreaking, but meeting Jon and his family was incredibly life changing. I don’t think I’ve ever met such a humble person in my entire life. I take comfort in knowing that Christopher’s legacy will live on through Jon , which will help save other children.


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