Yukon teenager gets heart transplant four days before Christmas

YUKON, Okla. - Ethan Ellis has spent a lot of time waiting in this tiny hospital room in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Here's a sink and a little bathroom, and here's where I live,” Chandra Sowers, Ethan’s mother, said.

Over 17 years ago, Ethan Ellis was born with a hole in his heart and other congenital heart defects.

After undergoing five surgeries, doctors told Ethan that he needed a heart transplant.

For the past three months, he has been waiting for that transplant. Just three weeks ago, his family received a promising phone call.

"They had called a few weeks before and said, 'OK, we have a heart.' It was 11 p.m. and I said, OK, and I told everybody, did everything. By 3 a.m., the doctor called and said, 'We can't do it. He's got a lot of antibodies from the blood products he's gotten,” Sowers said.

Antibodies rejected the donor's blood.

"It was pretty devastating at the time, but it turned out to be a blessing. I mean, it would have been fatal if it happened then,” Sowers said.

The family received another call around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 after doctors found another heart for Ethan.

By 1 a.m., he was in surgery. This time, the transplant was successful.

"I think he's actually surpassed their expectations,” Sowers said. "They're very happy with his progress. We moved out of ICU and into this room yesterday and that was only four days post-surgery."

It was a lifesaving Christmas gift for this Mustang High School student, who is ready to live a normal life.

"I'm very happy. I'm ready to get back home. I'm very excited to go home,” Ethan Ellis said. "Just being at home with family where all of my family is, sleeping in my own bed."

"I'm just looking forward to him doing normal teenage things. Like stay out past curfew, let me ground you. I mean do something normal and teenage,” Sowers said.

Their family is hoping Ethan will be able to come back to Oklahoma in January to finish his recovery and enjoy a belated Christmas with a new heart and new lease on life.

"He has normal vitals, which he's never had in his life,” Sowers said.

Ethan's mom told us the heart transplant costs around $1.5 million. His post-surgery medications will be $36,000-a-year, which is a costly expense for the family.

That's why companies like Papa Murphy's have helped raise money for Ethan's medical expenses. If you would like to help, visit the Children's Organ Transplant website or the group's Facebook page.