4-Month-Old Fighter Gets New Heart

Four-month-old Dillon Sellers lies waiting for a heart transplant in Loma Linda University Children's Hospital as his mother, Betsy, 37, strokes his head, in Loma Linda, Calif., Monday, March 3, 2003. Dillon's father, Marine Maj. Hal Sellers, was deployed to the Persian Gulf, Friday, Feb. 28. CBS/AP

Out of all the deadlines U.S. troops may be worrying about tonight, one deadline for one soldier has finally been met.

As CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, thousands of miles from his dad in the desert, four-month-old Dillon Sellers won a round in a battle even his dad's army wouldn't want to fight. Dillon got a new healthy heart.

"I was just thrilled and my first thought was, I got to find a way to tell my husband," says Betsey Sellers, Dillon's mom.

"Major Dad" is Major Hal Sellers who shipped off to war, leaving his wife Betsey to fight one out alone.

"Ya know, obviously my greatest fear in leaving was, that he would die while I'm gone and that's the last time I get to see him," he said.

Diagnosed with a rare heart condition, doctors warned Dillon's chances were slim unless a transplant could be found within weeks.

But war could also come within weeks and Sellers made the decision to go.

"I think at night, ya know when you're lying in the sleeping bag, you have time to think about it, and it's tough then," said Hal Sellers.

But make no mistake, the agonizing decision to leave an ailing child behind and deploy to war instead was always a decision that he says was based on family.

"The Marine Corps is my family too. I just wouldn't feel right letting the unit go off and me staying back there, so," explains Hal.

"People have asked me how hard my job is, and I think he's got the harder end of it, honestly," says Betsey.

A father on the battlefront and a mother on the home front have one thing in common, a 4-month-old fighter who knows nothing of war.
  • Sue Chan

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