Bradley Catterton, Forest Hill, MD

“You can’t describe the emotions that overtake you during this experience because you have every single emotion -- you’re excited, you’re anxious, nervous, scared, happy and sad. You don’t process it until it’s all over.” - Michele Catterton

In 2008, 7-year-old Bradley had a viral infection that affected his heart, but he recovered fairly quickly. However, a few months later, he developed a full-blown inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis. What ensued was a whirlwind of events taking place too quickly to process fully.

Bradley’s myocarditis caused him to have an irregular heartbeat and his doctors determined he would need a pacemaker to regulate his heart rhythm. However, during surgery to install the pacemaker, surgeons found the condition of Bradley’s heart much worse than initially believed.

LISTEN to Bradley's Story - Radiothon 2011

On a Friday night, two days after his surgery, Bradley went into cardiac arrest.  By Monday morning he was on the top of the transplant waiting list. Within 11 days, Bradley had a new heart.

“You can’t describe the emotions that overtake you during this experience because you have every single emotion - you’re excited, you’re anxious, nervous, scared, happy and sad. You don’t process it until it’s all over,” says Bradley’s mom, Michele.

Pediatric heart surgeon Luca Vricella performed the 10-hour surgery, the longest ten hours of her life, Michele says.

Bradley remained in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for a week before he was moved to a regular floor, where he suffered a seizure, which sent him back to the PICU. Two weeks after his surgery, Bradley went home, but was re-admitted a week later for terrible headaches and vomiting, caused by swelling of the brain caused by a stroke he suffered during the transplantation.

Despite all the post-operative complications, today, Bradley is healthy and doing well.

Michele says that “the care at Hopkins Children’s was absolutely phenomenal, top notch. I remember the evening he went into cardiac arrest, I ran out of the room. They took care of him but they also took care of me emotionally to help me get through this experience.”

Michele is particularly grateful to cardiologist Janet Scheel, to heart surgeon Luca Vricella, and to the two male nurses who took care of her son, one of whom let Bradley watch “Transformers” on his iPhone.

And she sends a big “thank you” to the remarkable PICU nurse Candace who cared for Bradley immediately after the transplant.

“I don’t think there was one person at Hopkins Children’s who ever made me feel uncomfortable even when I was asking all these questions.”

Bradley is coming up on his two-year “heart” anniversary.He continues to visit Hopkins Children’s for tests and follow-ups and often runs into some of the doctors and nurses who were instrumental in saving his life.