In the first fundraising effort, which began in mid-April, the Aledo community put up $40,000 for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association in honor of Dylan, with the money directed toward the teen’s non-medical transplant-related expenses.
Dylan would have been a freshman at Aledo High School this fall, but his plans were unhinged by the onset of viral dilated cardiomyopathy, eventually leading to a heart transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Currently he is in isolation — but not hospitalized — in Houston, undergoing weekly pinpoint-sized heart biopsies and taking drugs to suppress his immune system.
He is expected to return to Parker County in November, 90 days after the operation, but will not attend regular school in Aledo ISD until after the first of the year, Helms said.
“He is attending home-bound school with Houston ISD twice a week, but he would like everyone to know he is still a Bearcat,” Helms said.
In fact, Aledo head football coach and athletic director Tim Buchanan promised Dylan, a middle school football, soccer and track athlete, that he would give him a support role in the district’s athletic program, Helms said.
Helms said Dylan prepared himself for the transplant, working out and gaining weight to get in the best physical shape.
In fact, when the call came that a match had been made — at 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 3 — he was in the weight room at the hotel. Whisked away by his mom without so much as a shower, Dylan was at the hospital within 45 minutes, Helms said, awaiting the arrival of the donated heart.
Helms, hosting a backyard cookout at the time, said he set off for Houston immediately when his wife got the call from Mondee, about 7:20 p.m.
“I had 25 people in my backyard, with a boneless ribeye roast on the grill,” he said. “I walked around the corner with tears in my eyes, got down on my knees and thanked God.”