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Students are selling paper hearts to raise money for first grader friend who needs a heart transplant

Lamere's heart transplant costs $500,000 and the community, along with school staff and students are raising money for him.

Students are selling paper hearts to raise money for first grader friend who needs a heart transplant
Image source: Facebook/johnstonelementarybears

A 7-year-old kid from South Carolina is waiting for a heart transplant and his classmates are rallying around to support him. Lamere Johnson was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome — a condition that affects normal blood flow through the heart and causes the left side of the heart to not form correctly. The first-grader is in need of a new heart as a result. While Johnson waits for a new heart, his classmates are raising money to help him financially during the time of the transplant. They are cutting colorful paper hearts and selling them for $1 to help their friend, reported Good Morning America. 


By the time Lamere was three years old, he had already had three open-heart surgeries. The doctors told Culbreath, Lamere's mom, that he would be needing a new heart. The first-grader from Johnston Elementary is excited about getting a new heart. "It can be today, next year, next week, or next month," said Culbreath. "Lamere has been excited since he found out he's going to get a new heart. Me as his mom, I cry, I'm upset. He said, 'Mom, I'm going to get a new heart so I can play football.'" Culbreath hails from Johnston, South Carolina. The transplant costs $500,000. 


The school had recently opened after a temporary shutdown on account of Coronavirus. For the time being, doctors have helped Lamere attend school with the help of a backpack that contains an IV that helps keep his heart valves open, said his mother. After returning to school, classmates were overjoyed on finding out that Lamere was on a transplant list.



Makinzie Corley, a pre-K assistant at Johnston Elementary School, has helped the 7-year-old's classmates launch a project to help Lamere. His classmates are now selling paper hearts cut from color paper, with each heart costing $1. Whoever 'buys' a heart has their name written on the heart which is then hung in the hallways. The school's hallways are now filled with hearts, starting from Lamere's classroom door down to the fifth-grade classroom.

All proceeds from the sales are given directly to Lamere's account at the Children's Organ Transplant Association. "We wanted to get our kids involved and, at the same time, give back to Lamere and his family, because they're so precious to us," said Corley. "As a community and as a school, we want to make sure that this family is prepared for when the doctor calls and says, 'Hey, we've got a heart for him.'" The money will be used to cover his food, travel, and other expenses needed when Lamere has his transplant.



Corley cuts roughly 200-400 paper hearts each day before fifth graders take them around the school to check who wants to buy a heart for Lamere. His school has raised close to $2,000, with local middle and high schools also contributing. "Lamere, he is truly a blessing to everybody he meets," said Corley. "He's spunky, and he just loves life. I can't even explain his spirit. He loves coming to school." Lamere is hoping his new heart will help him perform better in sports.

“It’s amazing how the community has come together to help him to help us. Lamere’s just basking in the fame. He’s just enjoying it,” said Culbreath, reported Post and Courier. “His school has raised money, all of the schools in Edgefield County have raised money for him, they’ve donated to his COTA (Children’s Organ Transplant Association) account, they’ve gotten other people to do fundraisers – it’s amazing.” Those interested in contributing to Lamere's heart transplant costs can do so here. As of April 12, Lamere is still waiting for his transplant. Here's hoping he gets it as earliest as possible.

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