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Local

DeKalb 17-year-old receives successful heart transplant

DeKALB – Most certainly, few people have gotten better news in the wee hours of the morning.

The Canaday family, from DeKalb, received a phone call about 2 a.m. Wednesday letting them know that against long odds, a heart transplant match was found for 17-year-old Christopher Canaday. The DeKalb High School senior was born with pulmonary atresia, a rare defect that prevents the pulmonary valve from working properly and regulating blood flow.

About 6 p.m. Wednesday, Christopher Canaday’s lifelong fight reached a crucial juncture, when he underwent surgery at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, according to close family friend Ali Henry, who’s with the Canadays at the hospital. The surgery finished about 5:20 a.m. Thursday. Henry, Christopher’s mother, Amy, and his brothers, Brandon, 21, and Chad, 19, visited with Christopher later Thursday.

“The doctors said he did very well,” Henry said via text message. “Amy and the boys have been incredibly strong. Christopher's is a complicated case, so nerves were definitely there.”

A GoFundMe page set up with a goal of $10,000 has raised more than $2,300 to help with the Canaday family's medical costs. Visit gofundme.com/hopeANDstrength to help.

Christopher Canaday has undergone numerous open-heart surgeries and more than 50 procedures over the years, but in the past year, the condition of his heart reached the point where he needed a transplant to survive. He has been waiting for his match for about five months – from someone who was not only the same blood type, but also the same height and weight. Legally, the hospital can't disclose from where or whom the transplant came.

Mark Canaday, the father of the family and a former assistant housing director at Northern Illinois University, died in June 2017 after a three-plus-year battle with esophageal cancer.

That was 21 years after Mark and Amy Canaday lost their baby girl to pulmonary atresia in 1996. They were told there was only a slight chance they'd have another child with the condition, but Christopher was born with it.

Wednesday's transplant gives Christopher a better chance to survive.

“It will be a long, crucial road of recovery ahead, but one that will be so rewarding,” Henry said.

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