Bartow boy needs second heart transplant

3-month-old has never left hospital

Every time Sarah Rodgers of Bartow sees her 3-month-old son, Roper, in the hospital room, she wants to hug and kiss him.
 
“It's not where I can do that,"  Rodgers said. "It's been really hard. I've left the hospital in tears.”
 
Roper was born a healthy 7 pounds, 3 ounces. But inside, he had a heart too big.
 
"I found out around 5 months pregnant that he had the heart problem," said Rodgers, who’s been back and forth to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg too many times to count. "At around 6 months, I had a lot of decisions to make."
 
Just 24 days after his birth, Roper had a heart transplant.
 
But the new heart isn't getting the job done because of a condition known as “primary graft failure,” which occasionally happens to patients of organ transplants.
 
Now Roper needs another new heart.
 
"He's a fighter," said Rodgers. "But everything's just been one thing after another."
 
Rodgers admits she's emotionally torn. She knows what it means if another donor is found.
 
"That's the hardest part, is waiting," said Rodgers. “Because then I know another parent is losing their child for my child to have a chance at life."
 
And even though infant organ donation is not typical, or often discussed, it's part of the reason Rodgers is sharing her young son's story.
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