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‘We could never be more grateful’: Family shines light on organ donation after boy gets second chance at life

CHICAGO — They were told the odds were slim. Perhaps even against them, as their son Levi Olson’s name was added to the heart transplant list.

“They said we had a three percent chance of getting a heart,” said Levi’s father, Zach Olson.

Born with left heart hypoplasia syndrome, Levi underwent two open heart surgeries within the first year of his life.

“It was painful to watch him slowly deteriorate,” said Levi’s mother, Lindsey Olson.

To understand their pain, you have to feel the weight of a parent’s heart knowing their child was born with only half of one.

“He looked good, but inside his heart was so bad. He wanted to run around and do all the things with his big brother, but even climbing the stairs was too much for him,” said Lindsey Olson.

That continued until last week, when the Marengo family didn’t get the call they prayed for but never expected to get: They had a heart for Levi.

The Olson family

Sometime last week, a parent experienced something most of us can’t imagine; lose your child. And yet they decided to sacrifice their heart so that another could live.

“During the most difficult time, offering the gift of life is one of the most selfless things a family can do,” said Lurie Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Anna Jung.

More information at organ donation and the Levi’s family business.

The heart transplant operation lasted almost six hours. That evening, Levi’s heart was pounding in his new home.

“The next day he was playing in the hallway,” Lindsey Olson said. “It’s crazy. He’s already going further than he’s ever been in his entire life.”

Each of our hearts has its own path. Levy found him on a path that most would never take.

“Levi’s new heart is really strong. For the first time, he has a heart with all four chambers and normal oxygen levels,” June said.

It’s a gift the family will never forget.

“Someone made a great sacrifice to get a second chance at life, and we could never be more grateful for that,” Lindsay Olson said.


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