Heart transplant journey leads to new lease on life for Tampa Bay man

Heart Disease

TAMPA (WFLA) – On Kevin Mercado’s eleventh birthday his life changed forever. He thought he had the flu but it turned out to be much more serious than that.

An EKG revealed Mercado had cardiomyopathy and his prognosis wasn’t good.

“They basically told my Mom I had about a week to live.” Mercado needed a heart transplant fast.

To keep him alive, doctors inserted a ventricular assist device. It took three months, but eventually, a heart became available.

On Oct. 3, 2003, Mercado had his heart transplant and healed amazingly well. He had a new lease on life. But the very day he was being released from the hospital there was a giant setback.

“As soon as we walk out the door I start feeling a weird dizzy feeling.”

A blood clot in Mercado’s brain caused a massive seizure and he needed emergency brain surgery. “I ended up losing all of my motor functions so I had to learn how to eat, how to talk, how to walk, how to drink, everything.”

He spent three more months in the hospital but he fully recovered. Mercado is now 27 years old and a first-time father. His son, Deluca Mercado, was born in August. He is a healthy baby boy with no heart issues.

Mercado took a blood test to find out if his son might inherit his condition but it came back negative. Mercado’s cardiomyopathy was brought on by a virus and was not genetic.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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