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Lumberton boy first in state with heart pump device

Posted January 20, 2012
Updated January 21, 2012

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— A 10-year-old Lumberton boy got his Christmas wish – a heart transplant. But before his wish came true, C.J. Moore made history.

C.J. came close to dying last summer. "My stomach was hurting, and I was throwing up, and I wasn't eating as much," he said.

"He was just sleeping all day," his father, Christopher Moore, said.

C.J.'s condition was so dire – he had an enlarged heart, possibly due to a previous viral infection – that he needed a transplant, but the search for a suitable donor for a child typically takes six months to a year.

As a stopgap solution, doctors implanted a mechanical pump inside C.J.'s chest to see him through until a donor could be found. It was just the fourth time the operation was performed in the United States. C.J. was the first child in North Carolina to get the device, which was originally designed for adults.

"The device used on C.J. is the smallest mechanical pump that can actually be placed inside the chest," said Dr. Michael Carboni, a pediatric cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center.

heart transplant Device keeps boy's heart pumping

The pump is inserted into the left ventricle and powered by wires to a battery and controls that are worn outside the body.

"It sucks blood out of the left side of the heart and pumps it into the main artery – the aorta – to give blood flow to the rest of the body," Carboni explained.

The pump helped C.J. feel better, but the family still prayed a donor heart would come around Christmas. The call came on Dec. 19.

Soon, C.J. was back to his old self. He and his parents hope to head home from the Durham Ronald McDonald House in a couple of weeks.

The experience solidified C.J.'s career plan. He said he wants to be a doctor. "I want to help people," he said. 

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  • ghimmy51 Jan 25, 2012

    A distinction I'm sure everyone wishes could be avoided.

  • mrsbowen Jan 23, 2012

    Little man, with a big heart! Good luck!