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'You Just Have To Keep Going': Perris Teen Mark Trapp Receives New Heart, Liver In Groundbreaking Surgery At CHLA

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Sick since birth, 14-year-old Mark Trapp has beaten the odds.

Mark Trapp
Mark Trapp, 14, is one of less than 20 children in the U.S. to have received a heart and liver transplant at the same time. (Family photo)

The Perris native is one of fewer than 20 children in the U.S. who have received both a heart and liver transplant at the same time.

"I'm just so grateful and I'm happy that I can enjoy my life now," he said.

Mark was born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart disease that left the right chamber of his heart underdeveloped and unable to pump blood. In his short life, he has undergone three open-heart surgeries.

Mark suffered complications after the last surgery, which could lead to liver damage.

"The only solution to that was to find a way for him to have two heart ventricles," Dr. Jondavid Menteer, medical director of the Heart Failure and Transplant Program and Cardiac Mechanical Support Program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles said. "And the only way to do that is by replacing his heart."

As Mark waited for a new heart, his health deteriorated, and the team at CHLA decided that a dual heart and liver transplant would be his best chance.

"It was hard, because they came in the room and they told both of us," Melissa Gilbert, Mark's mom, said. "So, I'm trying to stay strong for him and show him that I don't want to break down because everything is going to be OK."

While he waited for the transplant, Mark was hospitalized for five months.

"It was very long, and I had to be a patient," he said. "I was just anxious and frustrated."

In February, Mark finally got his new heart and liver during a 17-hour surgery. Now he has a message for other kids facing challenges.

"Days are going to be hard and you're going to be mad, sad, frustrated," he said. "You just have to keep going and stay strong through those times."

And, with the surgery behind him, Mark and his mom are looking forward to what the future holds.

"I just want everyone to know how Mark is just an amazing child," Gilbert said.

More than 100 staff members at CHLA were involved in planning Mark's transplant surgery. It was the first time the hospital has ever done a heart and liver transplant at the same time.

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