Abel Protiva will turn one on January 24. He's already been through so much in his short time on earth.
When mom, Wendy Wees, was 20 weeks pregnant she went in to find out the gender of her baby. She and her husband were stunned to learn their little boy had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Basically he would be born with half of his heart.
He had surgery at just six days old. They had hoped he would be able to hold off on a heart transplant for decades. "Transplant was always the end game, but they were hoping that would be when he was 30 or 60 not 4 months," Wees said.
Abel was in the hospital because his heart was failing. He had a stroke, coded and it was determined he would need a new heart. He got one.
"It was a tough day because we know what happened on the other end of our story, and his new heart was perfect," Wees told us.
She says the medical staff at Children's Hospital and Medical Center has been crucial in their son's care and their family's strength through everything. They also thank the American Heart Association for raising awareness and funding to help fight congenital heart disease.
Abel has been doing well with his new heart. He still has a feeding tube as he learns to eat and drink and get the calories he needs. But you would never know the medical journey he's had by looking at him.
"He is so strong, and smiley and happy, he's great," said Abel's sister Kaya Koraleski. Koraleski is a sweetheart for the American Heart Association. She will be introduced at the 2018 Heart & Stroke Ball on February 3 at Embassy Suites La Vista. Abel will be the Prince of the Ball.
KMTV 3 News Now is a proud media sponsor of the Heart & Stroke Ball. Jennifer Griswold will be the emcee that evening. The Omaha Heart & Stroke Ball is presented locally by: CQuence Health Group, Cassling Family Foundation and Mutual of Omaha Insurance.
If you have a story for Jennifer to cover as part of her ongoing series Your Family Now, send her an email to Jennifer.Griswold@3NewsNow.com or reach out to her on Facebook.