Junior gets his second hero heart

Patient Stories |



Three-year-old boy has been waiting at Riley for a transplant since July 2022.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

For the second time in as many years, Brian and Mallory Aylor watched as their little boy was wheeled back into surgery to receive a hero heart.

This past weekend, the young parents from southern Indiana got the news they had been praying for ever since last summer, when their son, Junior, began showing signs of rejection after his first transplant.

“We got the call. Praise the Lord!” That was Mallory Aylor’s message to her friends, family and Facebook followers Sunday just after sending 3-year-old Junior back for surgery with Dr. Mark Turrentine.

The Riley Children’s Health transplant surgeon has been by Junior’s side pretty much since birth.

It was during a prenatal appointment at 24 weeks when Mallory found out her baby had serious heart defects, including hypoplastic right heart syndrome, tricuspid atresia, transposition of the great arteries, atrial septal defect and ventricular septal defect, more commonly known as holes in the heart.

“He had it all,” she said.

Thanks to nutritional support provided by Dr. Charles Vanderpool and team, cardiology care by Dr. John Parent and dozens of other care team members, Junior was strong enough to undergo his first transplant surgery a few weeks before his first birthday.

The family enjoyed a year at home before Junior was back in the hospital with complications.

Since then, he has been at Riley, waiting for a new donor heart while battling a host of other health issues. He recently celebrated his 3rd birthday in the hospital.

On Friday night, more than a year since Junior had been back in the hospital, the family got word that a new heart was a good match.

“Thank you for all the love and prayers,” Mallory said. “The hard part is just beginning.”

But, she added, “he handled surgery like a champ.”

Junior’s parents got to listen to his new heartbeat after he returned from surgery Sunday.

“His body so far is liking his new heart,” Mallory said. “Slow and steady wins the race, and Junior is doing great.”

On Monday, he had his first echocardiogram, she said.

“It was beautiful to see a beating heart.”

According to cardiac transplant coordinator Debbie Murphy, 11 patients have been retransplanted at Riley since the pediatric heart transplant program began.

But Junior is the youngest, she said.

The previous record for a second heart transplant at Riley was held by a child who was 5 at the time of her second transplant. She continues to do well nearly four years later, Murphy said.

Riley Children’s Health is consistently ranked among the top cardiology and heart surgery programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

To learn more about organ donation, click here.

Previous stories:

Junior gets a new heart weeks before his first birthday - Brian and Mallory Aylor’s son was born with multiple heart defects. He has been hospitalized at Riley for 7 months.

Junior waits for a second hero heart - The 2-year-old transplant patient is back at Riley as his parents pray for another lifesaving gift.

Related Doctor

John J. Parent, MD, MSCR

John J. Parent, MD, MSCR

Transplant Surgery

Charles P. Vanderpool, MD

Charles P. Vanderpool, MD

Pediatric Gastroenterology

related doctor headshot photo

Mark W. Turrentine, MD

Transplant Surgery