Teen is first to receive double organ transplant at CHLA

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In May, the teen collapsed in his Long Beach home. A new heart alone would not be enough to save him. (KABC)

With his huge smile and healthy laugh, it's hard to believe three weeks ago Zerkari Payne, 15, was barely clinging to life.

"I was like sluggish and all that," he said. "I really couldn't do nothing."

In first grade, Zerkari contracted a rare bacteria that destroyed his kidneys and led to heart failure.

Dr. Jondavid Menteer, an Associate Professor Clinical Pediatrics at Cardiology, and his team at Children's Hospital Los Angeles helped Zerkari manage his critical condition.

But in May, the teen collapsed in his Long Beach home. A new heart alone would not be enough to save him.

"I was scared," said Monique Anderson, his mother. "I was overwhelmed."

In mid-July, his family got the call: Two donor organs were available and he went into surgery.

"There was no way he could walk out of here and live," said Micki McKay, his great-aunt. "It was traumatic for all of us."

He had his heart transplant and after a little recovery time in the intensive care unit, Zekari went straight into the operating room for his kidney transplant, Menteer said.

Pediatric heart and kidney transplants are extremely rare. In the last 15 years, fewer than 50 of these double transplants have been done nationwide.

Zerkari is the first one ever at CHLA. "I was confident because he's been coming here for so long," Anderson said.

Before his incisions can fully heal, Zerkari's new heart and kidney have pumped new life into him.

"I felt like a new person," he said. "I felt like a brand new person again."

Heavy on his mind is his donor's family and their tough decision. "I would tell them thank you for giving me their organs," he said.

After Zekari was given a second chance at life, McKay said she hopes his story will encourage others to donate their organs.

"It saved his life," McKay said. "It saved our family."

Related Topics:
healthhealthchildren's healthChildren's Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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