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Healthy Living: ‘We’ve seen both sides of the coin,’ Anchorage family shares son’s story of having a heart transplant

Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 6:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

Have you ever met someone that was just so full of life? Meaning, their spirit shines through and even if they did have a health condition or a bad day, you would never know it? As a continuation of our story from last week regarding organ donation, we bring you the story of the Seay family.

His name is Lincoln Seay. He’s 5-years old. He’s a typical little boy and loves to explore. With our 360 camera in hand, courtesy of photojournalist Mike Nederbrock, Lincoln takes off to explore and his first stop is mom. During our interview, Lincoln laughs, plays and is curious about all the equipment. Anyone who’s met him will tell you he’s full of energy, full of laughs, but most importantly, he’s full of life..

“He lives life like nobody I’ve ever known. He loves life, he’s vibrant and crazy and just happy as I’ve ever seen anyone be,” said Lincoln’s mom Mindy Seay.

But to understand Lincoln, you have to go back to the beginning, to before he was even born, to his mothers 20 week ultrasound appointment where Mindy was given this news.

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“He has right atrial isomerism heterotaxy which is basically two right sides. So he has two right sided lungs, his heart was flipped around backwards and on the opposite side,” she explained.

Lincoln has spent most of his life in the hospital. He had open heart surgery at just 12 hours old. Abdominal surgery at 6 weeks old and in November of 2015, he was put on the list for a heart transplant.

“The doctors told us that with his diagnosis when he was born he had a very slim chance of survival. In fact the doctor’s exact words, these kids don’t live very long,” said Mindy.

Not giving up hope, the Seay family waited for a heart, but also watched as Lincoln’s health progressively got worse.

“About 6 weeks before the heart came they had to do a procedure. He coded and that had to revive him and the doctor said at best he bought us 6 weeks,” said Mindy.

One day shy of 6 weeks, they got the call..

Mindy said, “I heard a helicopter outside and we jumped up and ran to the window. I think that’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen, I mean that was life in a small box being brought into the hospital and that was my son’s.”

And just like that, Lincoln had a new heart.

“So we went back to his room and he was bright pink, his chest was closed, he wasn’t on echmo of course he wasn’t awake yet, but just the change in color in his skin was shocking,” said Mindy.

Lincoln, now 5 has had some health scares in his recovery, but his heart remains strong.

“Our worst days today are so much better than our best days when he was in the hospital,” said Lincoln’s dad Rob Seay.

“Anytime he has been very very sick doctors have always said his insides don’t match his outside you know he just looks vibrant and full of life,” added Mindy.

They also know his second chance came at a cost.

“I struggled initially with wanting to celebrate the joy of his second chance and at the same time being considerate to another family losing someone,” explained Mindy.

Rob said, “We’ve seen both sides of the coin. Lincoln was one of 3 kids in the ICU that were highly critical and he’s the only one out of those 3 that made it.”

That’s why they share their story and encourage other families to have an open dialogue about organ donation and where they stand on the topic.

“We would have never thought about it until we were faced with the decision ourself, so it’s something to be really intentional about,” said Rob.

“I can’t stand here today honestly to tell you if the shoe had been on the other foot, I don’t know that I would have said yes at the time, now I would, obviously,” explained Mindy.

The Seay family knows there are more challenges still facing their son, but thanks to the generosity of others, the literal gift of life, Lincoln will tackle those challenges with heart.

Click here to learn more about organ donation and Life Alaska Donor Services.

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