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Christopher Ennis needed a new heart, and soon. The doctors atThe Children’s Hospital ofPhiladelphia knew this was a possibility before he was evenborn.

While he was still in the womb, Chris was diagnosed withabnormal aortic and mitral valves, a rare form of congenitalheart disease. He underwent prenatal catheter intervention toopen the aortic valve; his doctors hoped that this procedure wouldallow the heart to develop and function more normally. Despite thesignificant advancements in prenatal catheter therapy, theprocedure didn’t adequately improve the obstruction to blood flowfrom his heart.

Chris was critically ill when he was born at Jersey ShoreMemorial Hospital in New Jersey. He was emergently transported toThe Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a life-savingintervention in which a stent was inserted in the atrial septum byan interventional cardiologist. Shortly after this procedure it wasdetermined that he needed a heart transplant if he was going tosurvive.

The Cardiac Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia isa world leader in reconstructive surgery for children and youngadults with heart disease. However, some congenital heart defectsare so severe that they can only be managed with transplantation.Chris was in the right place. As one of the largest and mostcomprehensive programs in the nation, the Cardiac Center is one ofthe few centers in the United States with the qualification andexpertise to perform a pediatric heart transplant. Because of theexcellent care provided by the Cardiac Center team, Chris was ableto survive until a heart became available for him after waitingonly one month. His transplant was a success and now he is ahealthy 4-year-old.

However, not everyone who gets put on the waiting list has thesame happy ending. In fact, 18 people die on the waiting list everyday. Recent wait list numbers show that the need for organs isgreatly outpacing availability. There are 64 children at TheChildren’s Hospital of Philadelphia waiting for transplants, andanother 1,988 are waiting nationwide. There has also been a declinein tissue and organ donation across the country. This declinehighlights the need for Donate Life Month every April and otherawareness campaigns, but also illustrates the reality faced bywaiting families. If a person is put on the waiting list, they maynever get the organ they need, or if they do, it can take years tofind a match.

An anonymous donor saved the life of Christopher Ennis. Theygave him the most impactful gift, the gift of life. Every donor hasthe potential to save up to eight lives through organ donation. Inaddition, a donor could also restore sight to two individualsthrough cornea donation and improve the health of up to 50additional people through tissue donation. The simple act ofsinging up to become an organ donor could potentially result inhappy endings for many waiting families. Become an organ donor.Visit transplant.chop.edu.