Tracy Leonard had his first meal Thursday, after undergoing heart transplant surgery at Loma Linda (Calif.) University Medical Center just a week ago.
The 3-year-old Payson youngster enjoyed a meal of mashed potatoes and gravy and ice cream, and Thursday night he topped it all off with Jell-O."Tracy ate every bit of it. He's doing very well. It's really nice seeing him do so well. We have never seen him so pink before. He looks excellent; he's just gorgeous," said his mother, Judy, in a telephone interview Friday.
Tracy, who was born with the heart on the right side of his chest and without a spleen, received a new heart in a 71/2-hour operation Feb. 11.
Because Tracy doesn't have a spleen, doctors feared that the boy couldn't survive a post-surgery infection. Loma Linda, one of nation's two hospitals that would do such an operation, had previously turned down the Leonard family. Surgeons have never attempted to transplant a heart and a spleen into a child before Tracy's operation.
Before the surgery, the boy's condition was deteriorating fast, and doctors told his parents Tracy may not live long. But the couple learned Feb. 6 that the transplant operation could be performed. Tracy's name was placed on a heart transplant list Feb. 5, and on Feb. 10 the family was informed that a donor heart was available. That same day the Leonards flew to California on a medically equipped jet.
During the operation, surgeons discovered Tracy's own heart was in backward and on the wrong side of his chest. They decided to position the new heart the same way.
"I think things now look the best that they have since he was born. I wish they could have done this when he was born so he wouldn't have had to go through so many surgeries."
Tracy, who had three heart operations before the Feb. 11 procedure, is still hooked up to a lot of medical paraphernalia but is able to be held by his parents in a rocking chair.
She said doctors believe Tracy may be well enough to be released from the hospital in about three weeks, but he will have to remain close to the hospital for six months to a year.
Judy and Chad, a machinist at Teleflex Defense Systems in Spanish Fork, obtained medical insurance and a Medicaid card before the last operation, only to learn that neither would help pay for the surgery because of its experimental nature.
Cyclosporin, an anti-rejection drug and the most expensive of the medications that will be required for Tracy, costs about $200 for a 10-ounce bottle.
It could cost about $10,000 a month for medication alone. The Leonards believe the cost of the surgery and doctors' and hospital fees will total about $150,000, unless there are medical complications. And living and traveling expenses are among other costs that must be paid.
The Tracy Leonard Trust Fund has been established through Central Bank of Springville, 202 S. Main St., Springville, UT 84663. Donations may be sent there or any other Central Bank branch.
A benefit dance is scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Bon Ton, 700 S. Main St., Payson. A dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at Cobblestone Restaurant, Payson, and a craft show and other activities are scheduled Feb. 25 at the Utah County Building auditorium.
"Tell everyone thanks. We have had a lot of support. A lot of people have sent letters and have called to express their concern. We appreciate everyone of them - including people we know and people we don't know," Mrs. Leonard said.