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article imageThree Times for Luck—and Maybe a New Home for Riley Special

By Anna Timone     Mar 20, 2013 in Health
Philadelphia - On March 5th, after three years, three months, three weeks, and three days waiting for a heart and lungs, and following two surgeries canceled at the last minute, the third time proved to be Riley O’Brien’s lucky charm.
Riley, 4, received his new heart and lungs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Spray was the lead surgeon for his transplant.
The operation began late on March 4th and continued into Tuesday morning, ending a long wait of more than three years for the Somerdale family. The surgery also marked the fourth time the family had rushed to CHOP, hoping the transplant would occur.Three earlier calls ended in disappointment when medical issues prevented the surgeries from taking place. “The night when we waited for Riley to go into the surgery room to receive his transplant was the worst of our lives. I will never forget that night.” said his father, Darren O’Brien.
“It’s been a wonderful, joyous day,” said the families spokesperson, Kathy Horn.“But Riley isn’t out of the woods yet,” she added. “He does have a fight ahead of him.”
Riley, was born without a spleen, and a few weeks early with extensive heart defects.
He previously has undergone at least two surgeries and 26 risky catheterizations to keep his pulmonary veins functioning.Riley;s life has not been that of a normal child. While other children his age run around and enjoy preschool, Riley has been tethered to an oxygen tank and has eaten through a tube in his stomach.
Although, Riley received his new organs, he is still facing months in the hospital while he recovers and his body gets used to its new organs. “The family’s needs does not end with Tuesday’s operation”, Horn said. When he leaves the hospital he still doesn't have a safe, healthy home to go to. The house his family is living in is structurally deficient and has mold in the walls and crawlspace. Riley’s new organs are simply not going to be up to the task of functioning in this unsafe, unhealthy environment.
Moving to a new home is not merely a pleasant thought—it is absolutely essential for Riley’s recovery and his future. But his family still has a $150,000 mortgage on their current 750-square-foot home, and its current condition means no one will buy it.
The family’s finances also have been strained because Carol O’Brien left her job at Our Lady of Lourdes’ liver transplant program to care for her son and Riley’s older brother Christian. Most of the family's income is generated from Darren O'Brien's job as a school maintenance worker. The family's income is barely covering living expenses and the parts of Riley’s medical bills that insurance won’t pay.
Riley and his family are in need of a "Handup not a handout" said Darren O'Brien. It’s time for a new, safe, and healthy home for this little boy who has been through far too much, he added. He said TD banks across the country are ready to accept donations under Smile4Riley or Riley O'Brien. HelpRiley.com has been set up for a crowdsource program to collect donations as well.
Tuesday night, the mayor of Cinnaminson, N.J. and the town agreed to declare April 20, 2013 "Riley O'Brien day". This has never before happened in the town for someone who does not live there.Two women heard Riley's story and were so moved that they had to organize an event to help raise money for a new home for the O'Brien's. Lauren Neidert and Christine Turner of Cinnaminson, N.J. are organizing a Run-Walk-Fun day to occur on April 20, 2013. It is expected that towns across the region will join together to celebrate Riley's life and bring awareness to the importance of donor organ donation.
You can follow Riley O'Brien's journey on facebook, twitter, or his website. At this time, Facebook seems to be the central spot for current updates regarding Riley,
More about Riley O'Brien, Heterotaxy Syndrome, Heart, Bilateral, Lungs
 
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