Touching Moment When 15-Year-Old Heart Recipient Awakens from Surgery

Fifteen-year-old Trevor Sullivan had heart transplant surgery on November 13, 2015, but it was only this week that Philip, Trevor’s dad, shared this touching moment shortly after surgery with the world via Gift of Life Michigan’s Facebook page. Listen to Trevor’s words as he first awakens from anesthesia.

Trevor’s journey to this heart transplant moment began back in February of 2015. One day Trevor Sullivan from Southfield, Michigan, was not feeling well. He thought he might have a cold or stomach bug because his stomach was bothering him. Trevor’s parents took him to see his pediatrician, and over multiple visits, Trevor’s symptoms did not improve.

Trevor’s parents, Philip and Kimberly Sullivan, thought their son might have an upper respiratory infection. He had some congestion and sinus issues, so his parents were giving him over-counter medication, but none of the medications had any effect.

In an interview with, Philip Sullivan said, “The red flag, I think, for my wife and I was the fact that he gained 12 pounds all of a sudden. (We were concerned) that he had not been eating anything. He was eating like a little bird, actually.” (Photo below shows Philip Sullivan with his son as a Boy Scout when he was 11 years old).

Trevor’s parents decided the best course of action would be to take their son to Beaumont Hospital.

“Sure enough, we thought maybe appendicitis, (that his) appendix was going to come out and 48 hours (later he’d) be back to school type of thing,” Kimberly Sullivan told

Sadly, this would not be the case. Doctors advised the family that Trevor was in complete heart failure. After further tests on Trevor’s heart, it was discovered he had a heart defect known as cardiomyopathy that had never been detected.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute “Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. These diseases have many causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments.

“In cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle becomes enlarged, thick, or rigid. In rare cases, the muscle tissue in the heart is replaced with scar tissue.

“As cardiomyopathy worsens, the heart becomes weaker. It is less able to pump blood through the body and maintain a normal electrical rhythm. This can lead to heart failure or irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias. In turn, heart failure can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen.

“The weakening of the heart also can cause other complications, such as heart valve problems.

“Cardiomyopathy can be acquired or inherited. ‘Acquired’ means you aren’t born with the disease, but you develop it due to another disease, condition, or factor. ‘Inherited’ means your parents passed the gene for the disease on to you. Many times, the cause of cardiomyopathy isn’t known.

“Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages.”

In Trevor’s case, his heart was severely damaged and covered with scar tissue. He needed immediate surgery; his heart rate dropped down to 30 beats per minute at one point. The doctors at Beaumont Hospital arranged to have Trevor airlifted to Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Surgery was performed to help alleviate the stress on Trevor’s heart, but he was going to need a donor heart in order to survive.

Trevor had played football back at his school, Berkshire Middle School, and when news of his condition spread to the school and his classmates, they began a card writing campaign. Trevor’s football jersey, No. 56 was retired and given to Trevor so he could hang it up in his hospital room.

By April 19, 2015, Trevor was home again. Doctors had him on a series of medications to help his heart slow its beat and to strengthen it. Trevor was put at the top of the transplant list, which is known as 1A status.

Trevor’s new heart finally arrived in November, 2015. The family was not given much information about the donor, except that the person was younger, had good muscle tissue, and a “strong heart.” According to the Daily Mail, Philip Sullivan wants to tell them: “Thank you for saving my kid.”

A GoFundMe page was set up to offset the expenses for Trevor’s treatments. His surgery and care are very expensive, even with insurance, and—due to co-payments—is going to be somewhere in the range of $50K to $400K. Heart transplant surgery typically costs about $1 million, and this does not include all the other “unseen” expenses like transportation, loss of income, household expenses, etc. Philip Sullivan is the sole wage earner for the family of six, and both of Trevor’s parents have been with Trevor constantly. Please visit Trevor’s GoFundMe page, if you would like to help this family and courageous young man on his new journey.