Tyler loves life with all of his brand-new heart. He is Henry.
What started as flu-like symptoms were initially treated as such. But when Tyler’s condition worsened, it became clear that a change was needed—in terms of both treatment and provider. When he was transferred to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, it was discovered that Tyler had a bad heart.
Of course, Tyler is no stranger to adversity. Born with Down syndrome, he’s consistently beat the odds and come out on the other side smiling throughout his life. So, when he and his loving family—parents, Buster and Shelly, and younger brother, Derek—learned of Tyler’s heart condition, they faced it with the grace of a family who had been through plenty. And more importantly, one that believed they would find a way to persevere again.
While the situation felt somewhat familiar to the family, for the cardiology specialists at Henry Ford Hospital, there were a number of firsts that needed to be addressed. Initially, they made Tyler the first Henry Ford Health patient with Down syndrome to be administered an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) pump. Then, after reevaluation granted Tyler the “bridge-to-transplant” label, he would become the first person with Down syndrome to receive a total heart transplant at Henry Ford Health.
Fortunately, Tyler wasn’t on the waiting list long before he was approved for the transplant. And his care team couldn’t have been more thrilled, as many had grown quite fond of Tyler and his sociable nature during his stay. The surgery was performed flawlessly. In fact, Shelly recalls that Tyler rebounded physically from the procedure immeasurably faster than he did from his LVAD therapy.
But what was most remarkable to Tyler’s family was how quickly their son returned to his former self emotionally—perhaps an even more energized version of the old Tyler. When he was able to go back to the school he loved after six long months away, there wasn’t a dry eye in the schoolyard.
“It’s a feeling like you’ve never experienced—when you’re confronted with the possibility of losing your child. And then, to see them succeed. It’s completely emotional,” states Buster, recalling Tyler’s triumphant return to school.
Since his successful surgery, Tyler has spoken the word “new” more than ever before. Whether that means switching up meals or trying activities he’s yet to experience, Tyler is clearly embracing his new lease on life.
Today, Tyler is looking positively at a promising future. He is excited about the prospect of working his first job and bringing his personable self to the community at large. So, if you, in the near future, encounter a retail employee who is every bit as passionate as his smile conveys—you may have met Tyler.
And if you’ve met Tyler, you’ve definitely met a Henry.