Ryan student receives new heart

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David Minton/DRC
Ryan High School "Raider" mascot, junior Breana Bladel sings the Ryan school song at the end of a pep rally recently. Breana underwent heart transplant surgery on Thursday at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas just weeks after she had been placed on a waiting list.

When Tena Bladel’s phone rang at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, she was expecting to be told about new medication for her daughter, Breana.

The voice on the other end of the line did not have medication. Instead, the voice had a new heart for Breana.

Breana, a Ryan High School junior and the school’s Raiders mascot, underwent heart transplant surgery on Thursday at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas just weeks after she had been placed on a waiting list.

Breana was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and also has a protein-losing enteropathy. Prior to the transplant, Breana was in heart failure.

A few weeks ago, the 17-year-old was upgraded to a 1B status on the transplant list. But Breana didn’t have to wait.

“There wasn’t another person viable for this heart,” Tena Bladel said. “It was her perfect match. Two weeks on the list, and this is her perfect match. The transplant team, that’s all they kept saying — ‘This is her heart. This is for her.’”

Just last week at a Ryan pep rally, Breana learned the Make-A-Wish foundation was sending her to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

The circumstances leading up to Thursday played a huge role in making her eligible for the transplant.

If Breana had received her medication on time, she wouldn’t have been able to receive the new heart. The donor heart couldn’t find a new home in the first tier of possible recipients, so the search was extended and Breana was chosen.

Dr. Joseph Forbess, the chief of the division of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the children’s hospital, performed the surgery.

At about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the process started. According to Tena Bladel, the heart was flown by jet for 2 1/2 hours to get to Dallas and arrived at the hospital at 11:30 a.m., 12 hours after Breana’s mother got the call to come to the hospital.

Despite not being able to eat early Thursday morning, Breana was singing in the back of the car on the way to the hospital and was ecstatic to receive her new heart.

“There was no fear in her,” Tena Bladel said. “There was no anxiety in her. She was ready, probably more ready than her Momma was.”

That morning at Ryan, news of Breana’s heart transplant was broadcast over the school’s speakers during the morning announcements.

Ryan Principal Vernon Reeves said it was exciting for the school to learn that someone who has worked hard dealing with the circumstances she’s been through will have a second chance with a new heart.

Ever since last week’s pep rally, Tena Bladel said the family has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from the community.

“Everybody’s wanting to help her,” Tena Bladel said. “Brea has been so happy. Everybody’s been stopping her in the halls [at Ryan] and telling her that they love her and they care about her.”

Staff writer Britney Tabor contributed to this report.

BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.


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