Norton Children’s 100th heart transplant goes home

Members of Louisville City FC came out to see Thomas Norris off after his 103-day stay.
Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 6:34 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Jeffersonville family and Norton Children’s Hospital are celebrating a milestone for a nine-year-old.

Thomas Norris was diagnosed with heart issues when he was 8 days old.

“I don’t know what he’s feeling,” Thomas’ Mother Katherine Norris said. “Neither one of us has ever had to go through any of this.”

Thomas was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. It’s an inherited genetic disorder that causes the muscles of the heart to become weak. His condition worsened last fall, and he was put on Norton’s heart transplant list on Nov. 1, 2022. 

Fast forward to Oct. 19th and Doctors at Norton Children’s implanted Thomas’s new heart.

“I am pretty sure everyone feels unexpected when they get that phone call, but it was nice when we got off the phone,” Norris said. “It was like it’s finally here. It was exciting too, because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

After spending 103 days at Norton Children’s, on Tuesday, nine-year-old Thomas went home. 

Thomas’ mother describes him as resilient. Despite all he’s been through, Thomas is a straight-A student who loves to build LEGO sets and play Super Mario Brothers. He also loves soccer.

Thomas being able to go home is also a special moment for those who cared for him during his hospital stay. In 1986, Norton became the second in the nation to perform a heart transplant in an infant. Thomas is the 100th patient to receive a heart transplant at Norton Children’s.

“I think it’s a testimony of how far we have come as a program and how well we have taken care of patients to get this far,” Pediatric Cardiology at Norton Children’s Dr. Sarah Wilkens said.

Over the years, the Norton Children’s Heart Institute has grown into a full-service program featuring a specialized team of cardiovascular and transplant surgeons, cardiologists, fetal heart specialists, and other caregivers dedicated to heart patients and their families. Norton Children’s Heart Institute is among the top 50 pediatric heart programs in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.