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After 372 days in a hospital, 6-year-old goes home with a new heart ready to take on first grade

During the year he spent in the hospital, the young boy graduated from kindergarten, made dozens of friends, and even "got married" to one of his favorite nurses.

After 372 days in a hospital, 6-year-old goes home with a new heart ready to take on first grade
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Dylan Nettles is finally home! After spending 372 days in a hospital in wait of a healthy heart, the 6-year-old from Hampton, Georgia is back in the comfort of his home and ready to take on first grade. Born with complex congenital heart disease, Dylan has been in and out of hospitals since a very young age. However, his lifelong health troubles and the long wait for a heart transplant have done little to stifle the young lad's spirit. Dylan left the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center late last month as a staff favorite and with a wide grin on his face.



According to Good Morning America, Dylan underwent his first open-heart surgery as a 1-year-old. However, his health kept deteriorating with time until he went into heart failure in January 2019. He was immediately admitted to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center where he was evaluated and listed for a heart transplant by the center's Advanced Cardiac Therapies team. And then began the long excruciating wait that lasted over a year and kept the high-spirited young boy confined to the walls of the hospital.



"It was extremely hard to watch Dyl go through his wait for the transplant because he didn’t feel sick for most of his stay so he didn’t always really realized why he had to stay. Dyl maintained a positive upbeat attitude throughout his stay so seeing that in him made it a lot easier for us to go through this journey with him," revealed the 6-year-old's dad, Kenneth Nettles. Despite being away from home, young Dylan made the most of his time at the hospital. He quickly won the heart of every staff member, becoming the "unofficial Mayor of the Cardiac Stepdown Unit," according to the hospital.

During the year he spent in the hospital, Dylan even got the chance to interview dozens of celebrity guests in the hospital's Seacrest Studios. He also graduated from kindergarten in the hospital school program and thrown a graduation ceremony by the staff. Celebrating the young superstar's graduation in a Facebook post in August 2019, the hospital wrote, Dylan was staying on the cardiac floor awaiting a transplant during his kindergarten graduation, but that didn’t mean this 6-year-old had to miss out on the fun. Thanks to his determination and The School Program at Children’s, he was able to stay on track and celebrate with a big smile — complete with cap, gown, and diploma. Now, as his classmates go back to school, he’s gearing up to make 1st grade another one for the books!



Although he made dozens of friends at the hospital and even "got married" to one of his favorite nurses, for Dylan, his main man was always his dad. When the hospital organized a special Thanksgiving program in November—asking patients to reveal the one thing they are most grateful for—the young lad pointed at his doting father without a moment's hesitation. A hospital Facebook post featuring Dylan holding up a handwritten note that says "My Daddy" reads: We knocked on Dylan’s door while he was deep in the throes of a heated game of Fortnite, which would presumably be a recipe for disaster for most kids. But the unofficial Mayor of the Cardiac Stepdown Unit was more than happy to toss his game gear aside to tell us—without a second of hesitation—what he’s thankful for this year: his daddy. Through his many months as an inpatient waiting on a heart transplant, Dylan’s dad has been his rock.



Less than two months later, the young boy's father finally received the news he'd been waiting for: Dylan was getting a heart. After 358 days of being hospitalized, the boy underwent a successful heart transplant on January 9, 2020. He spent another two weeks recovering in the hospital, following which he was discharged and sent home on January 23. "The first thing he did when he got home was walk around to see what new stuff he could find in the house, then went up to check out his room that we redecorated for him. It’s amazing to have him home! His room has been the hangout spot for the last week, and we all just sit around him while he does whatever he wants," his relieved father gushed.


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