Device gives Amish teen second chance at life

At 17-years old, Daniel Troyer suffers from Cardiomyopathy. His heart is dying.  Most patients...
At 17-years old, Daniel Troyer suffers from Cardiomyopathy. His heart is dying. Most patients like him must endure long hospital stays while waiting for a donor, but Daniel is living a near normal life.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 9:14 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A teen from Jamesport, Missouri, needs a new heart.

At 17-years old, Daniel Troyer suffers from cardiomyopathy. His heart is dying. Most patients like Daniel must endure long hospital stays while waiting for a donor, but Daniel is living a near-normal life.

“I mean, yeah, I have energy and I can pretty much do what I want,” said Daniel.

Two weeks ago, it was a very different story. Daniel could barely walk.

But, thanks to a new device at Children’s Mercy Hospital, he has a new lease on life.

“It’s keeping the blood flowing,. It’s getting the blood to my body. So, more energy,” said Daniel.

The device is called the Heart Mate 3, it’s a Ventricular Assist Device or VAD.

“It removes the blood from his heart to pump it to his body, so his heart doesn’t have to do the work,” said Dr. David Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe is the cardiologist at Children’s Mercy in charge of Daniel’s care.

“Not being able to breathe was just exhausting and even eating was a challenge for him. He was not doing well,” said Sutcliff.

“He was born with a genetic heart condition,” said Rose Troyer, Daniel’s mom.

It’s a condition Daniel’s struggled with his entire life, but Rose said her son has beat it for the most part.

“It wasn’t until this winter we noticed he was losing energy and he had more lightheaded episodes,” said Rose.

In May, a virus sent Daniel to the hospital. He underwent numerous treatments and medications, but nothing worked.

“It was very scary as a mom. You don’t want to think about transplant. I mean, it’s just something you don’t want to think about,” said Rose.

Daniel’s family is Amish, so they turned to their community and faith for guidance.

“We chose life. So, we decided to go through with it and prayed about it and talked about it with Daniel,” said Rose.

It was a decision they knew could take days, weeks, or months in the hospital. Waiting on a donor in Daniel’s critical case meant being hooked to machines to keep him alive.

“You don’t get better in the hospital. You get better when you’re home,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

This time would be different. Dr. Sutcliffe and his team implanted the very portable Heart Mate 3 into Daniel’s chest, now he can go home.

“He’s able to take walks. He’s able to exercise, do physical therapy, kind of do everything in life,” said Sutcliffe.

“From the minute the device went in, his color changed,” said Rose. “Every day since has been for the better.”

Daniel has even been to the zoo.

“We had no expectations he could walk all day. We were like, ‘We’re going to rent a wheelchair,’” said Rose.

Not only did Daniel not need the wheelchair, he hasn’t stopped since.

“It went good. Better than I thought it would,” said Daniel.

He’s also making hospital history with the Heart Mate 3, paving a path to better care for himself and others.

“This is the first time we’ve ever been able to do that in our hospital here,” said Dr. Sutcliffe. “This opens up brand new doors and gateways to be able to take care of kids in a brand new way.”

Daniel has yet to be put on a waiting list for a heart donor. In the meantime, the Heart Mate 3 will train and prepare his body. So, when the time comes, it will better accept his new heart.

“We love going to the mountains and hiking as a family, and the beach in the summertime. We’re hoping to resume all those family activities after his transplant,” said Rose.