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Katy Heart Recipient, Rowan Smith, Starts Kindergarten


By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy heart recipient, Rowan Smith, continues on his path to recovery and amazes the community by checking items off his "list." Rowan reached the biggest goal on his list last month - starting kindergarten.

A Rare Condition

Rowan was diagnosed in utero, with congenital heart disease, more specifically Shone's Syndrome. The rare disease involves a collection of eight left-sided heart lesions that greatly affects blood flow throughout the heart.

At four days old, Rowan underwent his first open heart surgery, with a second operation four months later.

Why a New Heart?

Rowan's journey to getting his heart started six months prior to his transplant. His symptoms returned and his family thought they were getting ready for another surgery. However, tests revealed that Rowan was no longer a candidate for heart surgery. He needed a new heart completely.

"We were all emotionally prepared for the third surgery and Rowan again showed us that he goes to his own beat," says Rowan's mom, Susan Smith. "So we switched gears and started to anxiously wait for a new heart."

The Waiting Game

Susan says it was difficult waiting and hoping for a heart. "You have to take it one day at a time," says Susan. "If that day is too much then take it an hour at a time and just keep breaking it down until you get through it."

Rowan found out he was getting his much-needed heart while at a Katy heart awareness 5K run/walk. His family was attending Graeme's Run, a local non-profit event that raises awareness and funds for The Children's Heart Foundation and Hayden's Heart.

At the J.J. Watt Charity Classic, his first official trip out of isolation. TCH provided tickets.

Lots to Celebrate

"Rowan's medical team gave him the clearance to start kindergarten on time this fall, and to play soccer also," says Susan.

Rowan turned 5-years-old and it's already shaping up to be his year. He also celebrated his first day of kindergarten at Fielder Elementary, where his big brother also attends.

"My favorite thing about school is riding the bus and singing the morning song in community circle," says Rowan.

Susan says, "Rowan already told his class all about his heart. He wants everyone to know how lucky he is."

His "List"

In February, Katy Magazine shared the story of Rowan Smith. He had a list of activities that he planned to accomplish after he recovered from his heart transplant. Susan shared some of Rowan's dreams and his "list" of things he wanted to do.

"Top of his list is little things that we often take for granted. He couldn't wait to walk to the top of the stairs without getting out of breath. He couldn't wait to play soccer with his brother and attend the U.S.A. Ninja Challenge gym," said Susan. "He also looked forward to swimming. He hasn't been able to swim since almost 5 months before his transplant."

And Now...

"He has been enjoying getting out of the house and has knocked several things off his "list" including swimming, visiting the beach, playing soccer, climbing, actually running up the stairs," says Susan.

Katy's Newest Cub Scout

In addition to being excited about school, soccer, and continuing to accomplish items off his list, Rowan has joined pack 343 Cub Scouts.

"I'm looking forward to making new friends and going camping with Cub Scouts," says Rowan. "The best thing about my shiny new heart is being able to run and play soccer."

New Life Came After Loss

While Rowan continues to recover and live his dreams, it's important to note the other side to any transplant story.

"As happy as we are for Rowan to have his heart we are sad knowing that somewhere out there another family is going through unspeakable loss and have made such an unselfish decision," says Susan.

Celebrate the Good

His family loves to say that Rowan rocks to his own beat. This is where the idea of his support group came from, Rowan's Rockin' Heart. Here the community follows his progress and accomplishments.

Unfortunately in this world we read a lot of sad stories so it's a big welcome when a happy ending comes along. The staff at Katy Magazine congratulates Rowan on his continued success and recovery. You can follow his story at his Facebook support group, Rowan's Rockin' Heart.

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