Two years later, Topeka child pulls through successful heart transplant

Elijah Diaz prepares for a heart transplant he has been waiting on for two years on Sept. 22,...
Elijah Diaz prepares for a heart transplant he has been waiting on for two years on Sept. 22, 2023.(Topeka Public Schools/Ali Diaz)
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:46 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It was a bittersweet but successful surgery for one Topeka family as their elementary school-aged son pulled through a heart transplant he had been waiting on for two years.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the Diaz family was notified a donor heart was available for their son, Elijah, a student at McEachron Elementary School in Topeka. Elijah had been waiting two years for the call.

Doctors had diagnosed Elijah with hypoplastic left heart syndrome when he was younger. The disease leaves the left ventricle of the heart severely underdeveloped. He underwent his first open heart surgery when he was just 3-days old.

Elijah’s doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital said a series of surgeries to correct the issue was performed, however, they were unsuccessful. This left the family with only one option.

On Saturday, Ali Diaz, Elijah’s mother, says he pulled through surgery and is adjusting to his new heart.

“His body is adjusting to the new heart nicely,” Diaz told 13 NEWS. “We’re very thankful to the donor family.”

While the gift of a donor heart is bittersweet, Elijah already plans to take good care of his new organ.

“When you get a new heart you have to rest for a little bit and heal it,” Elijah told 13 NEWS during an interview in 2021.

Topeka Public Schools USD 501 rallied public support for Elijah through a Facebook post flooded with uplifting comments intended to promote healing as he headed into surgery.

“We believe there’s power in many people uplifting and encouraging our Topeka school family...” the post read.

From members of the Topeka Police Department to the USD 501 School Board to friends of friends, the community has certainly rallied behind Elijah and is grateful for the good outcome.