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UF Health gives boy from Virgin Islands a second chance at life

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Lowell Thomas, from the virgin islands, had a normal childhood filled with basketball, video games and lots of dancing. That is, until he could no longer keep up.

“He sounded like a snoring bear,” said Malika Boyd, Lowell’s mother. “He just sat there and breathed and I was like, ‘honey breathe,’ and he said ‘mom I’m breathing’… and you are, but catch your breath.”

Doctors in the Virgin Islands concluded Lowell had sleep apnea and asthma. But neither treatment diminished his symptoms.

It wasn’t until Lowell’s family took a vacation to Florida that the doctors at Shands hospital made an imperative discovery.

“The reason I came here is because I had a heart condition,” Lowell said.

Lowell was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy.

“Our life turned a 360 degree turn in one day,” Malika said.

The condition makes it hard for the heart to deliver blood to the body, which can lead to heart failure if left untreated.

Lowell needed a new heart, and he needed it quickly.

“Trust me, I would have never knew,” Malika said. “That would probably be the last thing on people’s mind down there that he had a heart condition.”

Lowell was on the pediatric heart donor list for over a month. Then, they got the news they had a heart, and Lowell had a second chance.

“He stayed positive,” Malika said. “And it made me stay positive for him and guide him like ‘it’s going to be okay, you’re awesome and we’re going to get through this.’”

“It was really rough,” Lowell said. “But now it’s not rough for me no more. I feel good, energized, pumped up.”

His new heart is up and running, pumping blood throughout his body and oxygen in his lungs. Now, his breathing is quiet.

“I have to thank God,” Malika said. “Because I probably wouldn’t have him today.”

Doctors say they are monitoring Lowell everyday and they are very happy with the progress he is making.

“We prayed about it, to get through it,” Malika said. “And to get a second chance of life again, is pretty awesome.”

Lowell will be discharged from Shands soon and will be staying in the U.S. for at least one year as Shands monitors his progress.

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