Breaking News
More () »

Williams County infant 'doing wonderful' after receiving heart transplant

A Williams County mother gave birth just before the pandemic. Her son was born with heart conditions, requiring a transplant to live. That transplant finally came.

WILLIAMS CENTER, Ohio — The above video is our original report on this story from Sept. 4, 2020.

Update: 7-month-old Dean David now has a new heart. The Williams County family received the long-awaited phone call on Monday, Sept. 14. 

Dean's mom, Crystal Zehr, confirmed to WTOL that they were notified a heart had been accepted for Dean on Monday. At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dean went in to surgery for his transplant. Crystal said that Dean is now "doing wonderful."

Prior reporting:

A Williams County mom is finding her new home in a hospital room, nearly two hours away in Ann Arbor. 

Her son, born just before the pandemic struck, needs a new heart. 

"Without a new heart, we're not going to have him. I just want him to be happy," Crystal Zehr said. 

Her son, Dean David, is almost 7 months old and his short life has been filled with challenges.

Crystal learned something was wrong with his heart when she was pregnant; and when he was just days old, he needed open-heart surgery. 

She said his diagnosis is right hyperplastic heart syndrome and tricuspid and pulmonary atresia, which essentially means her son has half a heart. 

The staff at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor is keeping him alive until a donor is found. 

"Somebody is going to lose somebody important to them, and they're going to give my son the chance at life; a gift," Crystal said.

Until then, Crystal has moved to Ann Arbor to care for her son, staying bedside and at the Ronald McDonald House. 

The pandemic has added complications to an already trying situation. 

"You have to check your temperature when you go into the Ronald. You have to follow the rules. You have to sanitize things you touch in the kitchen. You can't actually cook in the kitchen. There are rules and they're protecting us and our children and we're grateful for that, but that does add stress," Crystal said.

Since only one person is allowed in his hospital room at a time, Crystal said her family can't be together. Dean's dad visits, but this baby boy has many more family members yet to meet. 

"It hurts me because I know there are a lot of people in the family who just love him and want to meet him. They want the best for him and they can't even hold him. They can't see him, they can't come. I have to do this by myself," she said.

Crystal said she appreciates the support her family has received online and hopes soon, her son will break free from his hospital room. 

"I love him so much and I love his dad so much and I just want to be us to be able to go home and be a family," she said.

The family received a call on Monday, Sept. 14 that had been long awaited - a heart had been accepted. 

The next morning, Dean successfully underwent surgery for the transplant, getting his new heart and the chance to finally meet the rest of his family.