DURHAM — A good-hearted, 13-year-old Fairmont youth is preparing to take his next steps in life, steps powered by a new engine.
Dorian Gibson got a heart transplant in the early hours of April 6 at Duke University Medical Center. There was a medical scare during the weekend, but he is recovering nicely, said Tashia Gibson, Dorian’s mother.
“He’s in good spirits,” Tashia said. “He is up walking with assistance and breathing without the ventilator after one day.
“He said he feels the difference. I don’t think he knew how sick he was.”
Dorian is one of about 3,500 people worldwide expected to receive a heart transplant this year. Duke University has performed more than 1,000 of the operations.
Tashia and Dorian had just returned from an doctor’s appointment in Durham when they got the call to rush back. The news scared Dorian, Tashia said.
“He kind of panicked,” she said. “’I changed my mind,’ he said. But when the neighbors and everybody gathered around him, he settled down.”
The surgery began at midnight and required almost nine hours. The only complication came a day later when his left lung collapsed, and doctors inserted a tube to keep it functioning.
“It was the longest night of my life,” Tashia said. “Dorian went into surgery with his hands together praying, and he came out praying.”
Other than the lung issue, the recovery is proceeding well. When asked about pain, Dorian held up three fingers, 10 being the worst pain.
“Just sore,” his mother said.
“He’s my sweet one,” Tashia said. “He’s a favorite of the nurses up here because he’s so easy.”
On Tuesday, doctors will do a biopsy on the new heart. Depending on the outcome, Dorian will take the next steps toward home. The next steps will include seven medications to keep his body from rejecting the heart.
Dorian was a normal 12-year-old who attended Fairmont Middle School until Aug. 27, 2017, when his heart was attacked by a virus. It damaged his heart so badly he needed a heart transplant as soon as possible. The family has been back and forth to Duke, waiting for a phone call.
Because Dorian is so young, he will require a second heart transplant later in life.
“It has not hit me yet, but somebody had to lose their child so mine could live,” Tashia said. “I’m not happy that a child had to die.”
In a year, the Gibsons will learn more about the heart that saved Dorian’s life. Until then, they will try to put their lives back together with Dorian returning to school and Tashia back to working full time at a daycare.
There has been a great deal of stress in the Gibson’s lives, and it has not come without financial difficulties. The family has set up a GoFundMe site at www.gofundme.com/dorians-heart-transplant/ asking for help as Dorian recovers. The fund has a goal of $10,000 and $774 had been raised as of early Friday evening.
Staff writer Scott Bigelow can be reached at 910-644-4497 or [email protected]