The hearts of Arizona: Teen gets miracle heart transplant

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Donate Arizona) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Donate Arizona)
The doctors placed a small pump into Brett's heart to keep him alive while he waited for a donor heart.  (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The doctors placed a small pump into Brett's heart to keep him alive while he waited for a donor heart. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Brett Wallick was an average teenager. He loved baseball and was in his sophomore year of high school when he began experiencing difficulty breathing.  

Four years ago, Wallick (age 16) was walking home from the store with his dad when he started being unable to take full deep breaths. His parents rushed him to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“They put me on a heart monitor; my heartbeat was 140 beats per minute just sitting," he recalled. "So ... they were like, 'OK, we need to do a chest X-ray.' And I just remember walking the hall to get to the chest X-ray and I’m like this isn’t good. I mean, I could barely walk I was so out of breath from just taking small steps.”

Wallick was told his heart was three times as large as normal, and without a transplant, he would die.

[RELATED: A heartwarming, life-saving gift for a Phoenix-area father]

“I try to have a positive outlook on everything, even before everything happened," he said. "I have always learned from my dad just be positive about stuff. I was like, this might be it, you know; 15 years was fun."

Brett’s father, Scott Wallick, said that watching his son die a little for 10 days was extremely tough and that nothing he witnessed in his years in the military prepared him for what he was facing.

The doctors placed a small pump into Brett's heart to keep him alive while he waited for a donor heart. Three months later, Brett was invited on the field at a White Sox vs. Giants spring training game at Camelback Ranch. He had no idea his life was about to change.

“I got to high five all the World Series champs right there and I didn’t even know so that was pretty cool. A bunch of people in the crowd were going crazy like, "Keep the faith! You’ll get a heart!’" I got the call that night,” Brett said.

The next morning, Brett was taken into his 10-hour miracle surgery.

“I didn’t know what to think, you know, emotions run through. You’re happy; you’re sad. You’re sad because someone else has to die for you to live but you can’t be too sad about it because you’re going to live. You’re going to take something that’s theirs and have it live on,” he said.

“You just got to rely on your faith. You gotta be strong for your kid; there’s a time and place to show the emotion,” Brett's dad remembered. “So many times, we said goodbye to him, and you do it with a smile on your face to reassure your child. Then you go off somewhere, by yourself, and you cry your eyes out, and that’s what I did.”

Brett’s new heart came with another surprise, as well.

The donor’s family sent him a hand-written letter describing the man whose heart Brett now has.

“He was a father, son and brother,” Brett said. “They sent us another letter. We haven’t printed it out yet but it said he loved like fishing, and he was a very loving, caring person. The craziest thing was, that I read, was that he won two high school state championships for baseball. So that’s where the baseball started kicking in. That’s when I really started getting into it.”

Now four years later, Brett is the Glendale Community College baseball team’s manager and helps the MVD with ads expressing how important it is to become an organ donor


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