NewsPinellas County


Largo 4-year-old heads home, now recovering from heart transplant

His teachers and classmates are staying connected
Posted at 6:17 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 18:17:15-05

LARGO, Fla. — A Largo 4-year-old with an unbreakable spirit is back at home after receiving a gift that saved his life: a new heart.

Sean Walsh’s adoring classmates and teachers at Anona Elementary School in Largo are making sure he doesn’t miss a beat as he recovers. As Sean reunited with his school family virtually for the first time in weeks, he was all smiles. “He’s been doing amazing!” his mom exclaimed. ABC Action News first introduced you to Sean as he and his mom learned he was next in line for a new heart.

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“I have a heart coming!” Sean said, while hooked up to wires in his hospital bed.

Next, he thanked everyone for their prayers in a video taken by his mom and posted on social media.

Sean was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning his heart only functioned halfway. Since birth, his mom says he’s endured 3 open-heart surgeries.

In September, his heart began to fail.

Sean’s mom, Ali Royal, says they waited just 6 days for the transplant. It’s a gift that she says absolutely saved her son’s life.

“You hear people are waiting 4 months, 8 months, a year, a year and a half for a transplant and I wasn’t expecting that call so soon,” Royal said.

After spending nearly two months in a Gainesville hospital, Sean returned home on Oct. 29 and his mom says he is healing perfectly.

“I’m just so overjoyed. His little laughter through the house. It just melts your heart,” Royal said with emotion.

Sean is now back to asking for his favorite thing.

“School friends! School friends!” he yelled out during a Zoom interview.

Although doctors want Sean to stay home for 3 to 6 months because his immune system may be compromised by the transplant, his Anona Elementary VPK teachers Jen Bryant and Julie Nibert are making sure he doesn’t miss a moment and continues to connect with his classmates virtually.

The class even sent a care package to Sean in the hospital full of handwritten cards.

“It’s just very comforting as a mom because you don’t ever want your kid to felt left out,” Royal added. Royal hopes one day she’ll be able to thank the donor’s family. “I would love to do that in a heartbeat. Thank you doesn’t even seem like it’s enough to have my little boy back,” she added, fighting back tears.