Young heart recipient constructing new friendships

2-year-old heart recipient gets fond farewell from hospital, construction crew

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Thanks to a generous gift from one family, another family is headed home from the hospital for Thanksgiving.

A two-year-old boy got a heart transplant at Norton Children’s Hospital, and a farewell celebration was held for him on Wednesday. After 136 days, a goodbye cake and gifts were waiting for the boy from Prestonsburg, KY.

Doctors said they’ve had parties for children before, but the party room was never more packed than it was Wednesday.

The reason? The guest list was a little longer than usual.

“There’s a different type of warrior that’s going home for the holidays,” the boy’s mother, Valerie Justice, said.

That warrior’s name? Bryson Justice.

He’s a two-year-old superhero with a brand new heart and he’s got the scars to prove it.

Bryson showed off his scars from his heart transplant.
Bryson showed off his scars from his heart transplant. (WAVE 3 News)

August 3, Bryson was put on a waiting list for a heart.

In October, a donor family offered the life-saving gift.

“I cannot wait to meet this family, through what they’ve done,” Valerie Justice said. “It’s the reason he (Bryson) is here.”

Besides that family, Bryson has plenty of fellow superheroes to hang with at Norton Children’s Hospital -- not just the doctors and nurses.

“It’s just amazing to see all these guys here and how much this little boy impacted them,” Dr. Joshua Sparks, the Norton Heart Transplant Medical Director, said.

Sparks is talking about the workers of Messer Construction, who are renovating the hospital. They were not going to miss Bryson’s going away party.

“He enjoyed watching them,” Bobby Justice said of his son. “He likes to see equipment moving and what it’s doing.”

Bobby Justice works in construction, too, and he’s Bryson’s #1 superhero.

Bryson loves anything construction, especially the men and women working around him.

“For that, it gave him a little bit of a break from reality,” Bobby said.

Bryson was already playing with his new construction toys, wearing a signed hard hat from the crew.
Bryson was already playing with his new construction toys, wearing a signed hard hat from the crew. (WAVE 3 News)

“It’s like anything else, when you’re happy, you do better and you feel better,” Sparks said of transplant recipients and patients in general.

It was obvious the feeling was mutual, as workers brought Bryson construction toys and gifts, including a signed hard hat.

“It’s amazing to think we’re here renovating the hospital and to think something as simple as our day-to-day job is easing the mind of a child who is dealing with the challenges he’s up against and recovery,” Josh Moulton, the Messer Project Manager, said. “It means the world.”

Bryson’s doctor said the first few months after a transplant can be a little rocky with a depressed immune system, but after about a year, quality of life is good. With his medicines, he’ll be playing with his siblings just like other kids his age.

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