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El Paso boy gets first artificial heart at Dallas hospital

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas - Nine-year-old Matthew Olivas, Jr. from El Paso underwent the first artificial heart surgery at a children's hospital in Dallas this week.

Matthew was born with a heart condition called Ebstein's anomaly, which is a deformation of the heart.

A year ago when his kidneys started to weaken, doctors in Dallas decided to bring him in for a valve replacement.

When Matthew went in for surgery on Oct. 17, the surgery did not go smoothly at all.

The El Paso boy went into cardiac arrest for a few minutes.

"At one point I lost my little boy," said Matt Olivas, Matthew's father. "It was hard, to feel like that is something I never want to feel again."

The doctors then decided to start the artificial heart process and put him on a Syncardia machine.

"It's a fully functional mechanical heart which actually replaced his heart completely and gave my son another chance," Olivas said.

Although Matthew may not wake up for another week, doctors said he is stable and the next step is a heart transplant.

"Words wouldn't explain what I feel for these doctors," said Olivas.

Olivas hopes Matthew's case is only the beginning of saving more children's lives.

"I'll never be able to know what my son is going through right now ," Olivas said. " But one day it will be a story to tell, and he'll be able to tell it. He can teach other little kids that are going through the same thing,"

If you would like to help out the family medical costs, checks can be made out to the Olivas family at Wells Fargo Bank.

Donations can also be made online by clicking here.



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