Coppell Family Has Personal Connection to North Texas Giving Day

4-year-old Carlos Riviera had a life-saving heart transplant last year.

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Carlos Riviera is an active 4-year- old with a sweet smile. A little more than a year ago, he could hardly walk down the hall.

"I started noticing weight loss," Carlos' mother Karla Esquivel said. "He looked very skinny, but not like skinny regular. Like his arms, his legs were boney."

Esquivel thought it might be asthma, but medications weren't working. The family ended up at Children's Health in Dallas with a diagnosis of Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a rare condition that causes the heart chambers to stiffen, limiting blood flow.

"They admitted us that night in the ICU," Esquivel said. "I was scared."

Carlos' only hope was a heart transplant. He had to wait at the hospital until a donor was found.

"In my mind, it was just like my baby was dying and he was going to die," Esquivel said. "That was the diagnosis, pretty much."

Carlos was moved to the top of the donor list and got a new heart. His mother says he is a proud member of the 'zipper club', referring to the scar down her son's chest.

"He will show off to anyone," Esquivel said. "He's so proud because he knows exactly what happened to him. He knows that an angel gave him the heart."

Esquivel said were it not for the donor, and money donated to research, her son's story might have a different ending. She now looks at North Texas Giving Day in a very personal way.

"We are here today because of those donations, because of that hospital, and of course, because of our donor," Esquivel said. "Right now he's here, and we're going to enjoy it."

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