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Dad Shares Emotional Moment of Son Waking Up after Heart Transplant

The Short of It

A Michigan dad shares an incredible video of his son waking up from heart surgery, and with it, an important message about organ donation. Warning: get the tissues ready.

The Lowdown

Last year, 15-year-old Trevor Sullivan underwent a heart transplant. To raise awareness about organ donation, his father Philip decided to post an intimate video of what it was like when Trevor woke up from this life-changing operation.

"I can breathe again and talk," we hear the teen saying through tears, although his eyes are still closed. And despite being hooked up to tubes and monitors, Trevor tells his dad, "I feel amazing, just amazing. I've never felt so good."

The emotional footage, which Sullivan shared on the Gift of Life Michigan Facebook page, has gone viral, receiving more than 1.2 million views in a few short days.


My son waking up after his heart transplant on 11-13-15...

Posted by Philip Sullivan on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Even though the video is very personal, Trevor told ABC News, "I really like the video, actually. I think it's really cool, and I wish everyone in the world can see it because it really makes a difference. It promotes organ donation, and people can see the outcome of it and how happy they really are." He added, "I feel fine after recovery. I can do anything now. I do feel really relieved."

But it was a long road to get where he is today. Trevor was diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy last February after feeling sick for about a year. His dad recalls: "In September 2014, he was on the football field and said he didn't feel good...we thought it was allergies." But a little over a year later, Trevor's heart failed, and he was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he was soon placed on the heart transplant registry. Eight months later, a donor heart became available, and Trevor underwent surgery.

His mom Kimberly says about her son's reaction upon waking up from the operation: "It blew me away. Honestly, for me, I didn't know what to expect. I kind of thought he'd wake up disoriented and in pain, but instead he woke up happy, ready to go and pleased with what he was going through. He made all the worrying that a mom would do go away....It felt like it was better than the day he was born."

The Sullivans haven't been told who donated a heart to their son.

"We know that it was a younger person it came from, with good muscle tissue, a strong heart. It makes us feel really good that he was able to be saved because it was getting really scary. He was going down the wrong path, until we got the call," Trevor's grateful dad says. If he ever had the chance to meet the donor's family, Sullivan would want to tell them, "Thank you for saving my kid."

The Upshot

It was interesting because I read some comments underneath the story on the ABC News site, and the one that I just can't get out of my mind reads, in part, "As the father of an organ donor I can tell you that the decision to donate is not as difficult as you might imagine. The difficult part is dealing with the sudden loss of a family member."

I can't imagine that poster's pain; but his words underscore the importance of organ donation, something I have long felt passionate about. We can only hope to never have to make that decision about ourselves or a loved one, but if the worst happened, it's comforting to know someone else can receive a beautiful gift of life like Trevor Sullivan did.

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