LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant list. In the U.S., more than 115,000 people are waiting. Keeten Heskett, 2, from Arkansas is one of them.
How to Become an Organ Donor
If you didn't know Keeten personally you would never know his struggles. "He is not any different than anyone else," says his mom Lacey Holligsworth.
The playful, independent and very inquisitive toddler seemed to be fascinated with our THV 11 cameras
"He is used to a camera, so he is blinking," explains Hollingsworth. "Everyone loves him."
Holligsworth was five months pregnant when she found out that her first child would be born with a heart defect. She says, "It was really scary. I had him at UAMS and just a few minutes after he was born, he was taken by ambulance over here."
Arkansas Children's Hospital has been Keeten's home away from home for much of his short life. In two and a half years he's had four heart surgeries. Every day he takes several medications. His only hope is to get a new heart.
Dr. Elizabeth Frazier is the head of the heart transplant division at ACH. She's been monitoring Keeten's condition and his scans daily. Frazier explains, "He was born with this large whole in his heart."
Keeten has been on the transplant list for 51 days and the call could come at anytime. The transplant network list is divided into 11 regions of the country. Doctors say the average travel time for a donated heart is four hours. Howver, because Arkansas is centrally located, Keeten's chances of a new heart are greater.
"We've been to Amarillo, Texas, Toronto, Canada. We have been to New Jersey, Philadelphia," says Frazier.
Meanwhile, the play-time, the distractions, and the prayers will continue.
"You just kind of concentrate on him and making sure he is playing and he is happy that he is not upset or worried or doesn't see me upset or worried," says Holligsworth.
Ashley Blackstone asks Keeten, "Did you go on the helicopter?" He replies, "Yeah!" Ashley says, "Who did you meet? Did you meet a pilot?" Keeten smiles, "Yeah!"
His loves for cameras means memories captured in pictures. But they're also reminders of their fight, their struggle. They're believing and resting in faith that one day the mask and iv's will be gone.
"When he gets better and stronger, I would like people to see him then," says Holligsworth. "We wait, we pray and hope."
Holligsoworth hopes by sharing Keeten's story, more people will become an organ donor.
Keep in mind, one person can save up to eight lives. The same donor can also save or improve the lives of up to 50 people by donating tissues and eyes. On average, 18 people die every day while waiting for organ transplants in the U.S., and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the waiting list.