Northeast Texas Teenager Bounces Back From Heart Failure

He suddenly collapsed on the basketball court and within weeks received a new heart

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According to the Heart Failure Society of America, heart failure directly accounts for about 8.5% of all heart disease deaths in the United States.

Heart failure might be more common in adults, however, it can also occur in newborns, infants, toddlers and teenagers.

For decades, adults have benefited from the technological advancements of heart devices, allowing them to live longer, healthier lives.

Now, children can benefit too.

The FDA-approved ventricular assist device, or VAD, specifically for pediatric use, helps a child's heart pump blood if they are experiencing heart failure and helps them survive until a heart transplant or another solution is found.

Lafayette McAlphin Jr., 15, received a VAD after a sudden heart attack on the basketball court damaged his heart.

"I was kind of scared at first because I didn't know what happened and I kept blacking out," said McAlphin, also known as L.J. to his friends.

Doctors said he had a coronary anomaly, an irregularly shaped artery and something he was likely born with.

The condition can decrease oxygen and nutrients to the heart, which are items crucial during physical activity.

"He got blood cut off to that heart muscle at the time period when he needed it the most and that caused his heart to stop," said Dr. Ryan Butts, medical director of the heart failure program at Children's Health and associate professor at UT Southwestern.

L.J. needed a new heart, and the VAD helped keep him alive and active during his wait on the heart transplant list.

Within five weeks of his heart attack, L.J. had a new heart.

"It's really truly been one of the most important things that has happened to pediatric heart failure treatment in probably the last couple decades," Butts said.

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