LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For the first time in nearly 150 days, a 12-year-old boy is sleeping in his own home on Wednesday night.
Clay Pendino, 12, who goes by the nickname Courageous Clay, is finally home after a heart transplant at Norton Children’s Hospital.
The staff made sure he went home in style. Clay was surprised with a toy BMW car he was quick to climb into and drive to his heart transplant farewell party in the hospital.
"Just amazing. I couldn't have done it without all of you guys,” Clay said to those who gathered to wish him luck.
He gave big hugs to his heart surgeon, Dr. Baha Alsoufi.
"It’s like celebrating a success story with close friends and family,” Dr. Alsoufi said. “It’s the beginning of a new chapter where he now has a well-functioning heart that will hopefully give him many, many years of a healthy life.”
Norton Children’s Hospital has completed eight heart transplants so far this year. It’s believed they will have 10 by the end of the year.
Clay was born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome: it’s a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through his heart. As a result, Clay has had five open heart surgeries, and received his heart transplant on Aug. 17. His most recent hospital stay lasted 146 days.
"Now for him to go home and be more of a normal child and be able to run and jump and do all the things -- it still seems surreal,” Clay’s mom, Nicole Pendino, said.
She said for so long her son has been sick and unable to do so much. He will still have to see a cardiologist, but his quality of life should be greatly improved.
Clay had hugs for everyone at Norton Children’s Hospital, except his physical therapist, who had made him work hard to get to this point. He jokingly backed away from her as she laughed.
As Clay left, he told everyone, “Peace out.”
It was a beautiful celebration for a little boy who stole the hearts of those who cared for him at Norton Children’s Hospital.