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Connor Marvin (second from left) sits with other Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School students during a girls soccer match in early November 2011, a few days before heading to Boston to await a heart transplant. His brother, Brock (far right), underwent that same surgery successfully in December 2010.

The call came at last.

"I got a new heart!" Connor Marvin told his mother, Darlene Farrar Mitchell, and stepfather, Denny Mitchell, over the phone Wednesday morning.

Since November, with the exception of a week around Christmas, the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School sophomore, now 16, has been a resident at Boston Children's Hospital, waiting for a heart transplant.

A couple of times, hearts became available, but the transplant team did not feel they were perfect matches, so the available organs were given to others.

In an email sent Wednesday afternoon, Connor's father, Walter "Smitty" Marvin, wrote: "Good News! Connor got the call today and will be going in for his 5-8 hours of surgery soon. They expect him to go in around 2:30 AM. So say your bedtime prayers. We will need them.

"Hopefully, there will be more great news tomorrow."

'I LOVE YOU'

Connor had been diagnosed with familial dilated cardiomyopathy, a congenital condition that results in a greatly enlarged heart with an efficiency rate of less than 50 percent.

When he was admitted to the Boston hospital in late 2011, his condition was labeled "end-stage heart failure."

His age and otherwise excellent physical condition, as well as his presence at the hospital, gave him the top-rated 1A rating on the waiting list should a donor be found.

It was still a long wait. And there was more waiting once the surgery was scheduled for early Thursday.

"When we got to Boston around 5 p.m. (Wednesday from Lewis), the heart was not there yet," said Mr. Mitchell.

Mr. Marvin, who has been living near the hospital; the Mitchells; and Connor's brother, Brock Marvin, sat with Connor throughout the evening and into the early morning.

"We waited and waited," said Mr. Mitchell. "Connor was trying to get some rest, but he was so excited, so he just couldn't."

"When they took him to the elevator, Connor said, 'I love you. Let's get this over with' to all of us," Mrs. Mitchell said.

Brock, who was born with the same condition, received a new heart in December 2010, so he and his family knew the drill.

Brock was given the go-ahead for full physical activity and played goalie on the ELCS varsity soccer team this past season.

'VERY STRONG HEART'

Back home, the community was kept apprised of the progress through modern technology. Cathy Marshall Rock, a good friend of the Mitchells, posted several entries on Facebook.

"I talked to Denny and Dar at 4:30 (a.m. Thursday). Connor had just gone to surgery. Keep the prayers going!"

The next entry, five hours later, announced: "Yeah, Surgery all done — went great!"

"Everything went very well," Mr. Mitchell said via phone Thursday morning. "When the doctors came out to talk to us, they said everything went very well.

"They said it was a very strong heart, and it started pumping right away."

"I looked through the glass of the ICU, and he looked awesome," an elated Mrs. Mitchell said. "I couldn't believe he was so wonderful for what he went through."

'IT'S A MIRACLE'

Connor's heart had been growing weaker and more enlarged, Mr. Mitchell said.

"We had been getting concerned the longer that (he) was waiting for a donor heart," he said. "I'm so glad they got it in time, before it got any worse.

"It's a miracle what they can do. They had already done four other hearts this past week, and Connor was the fifth."

It is expected that Connor will remain in the Intensive Care Unit for several days and then remain hospitalized until the doctors are satisfied with his progress and that the immediate danger of rejection has passed.

Once he is discharged, he will live in an apartment in Boston with his father for a month or so.

"We prayed and prayed. We want to thank everyone in the community and school for their thoughts and prayers. Isn't it wonderful? God works in mysterious ways," Mrs. Mitchell added, with Mr. Mitchell chiming in with similar sentiments.

'WE ALL PRAYED'

Connor's classmates were elated when, on Wednesday, Principal Jennifer Bull made the announcement that a heart had been found for him.

" ... we were just like, wow!" said Angel Barnes.

"It was very good to hear the news," junior Josh Williams said. "It seems like it was such a long waiting period, but overall, I am glad, as it was worth it."

Student Corrine White wasn't at school but read the news on Facebook.

"It's so exciting," she said. "I know I will not be seeing him for awhile, but it is so great."

"I'm so excited for him," Katie Whittemore said. "Our hearts were broken when we first heard that he was going to get a heart and then didn't.

"We all prayed for him."

She said math class hasn't been the same without Connor.

"Now there is so much joy within us.

"It's also scary. I know this (the recovery) will be the hard but good part."

 

Email Alvin Reiner at: areiner@pressrepublican.com

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