Man with Down syndrome thrives after heart transplant

A young man with Down syndrome was struggling with heart failure and a pump helped to keep him alive. Then doctors said they can do even more.

Tyler Krueger is now 24 and will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life, but his recovery has been impressive and there's optimism about his long term health. 

He doesn't need words, but instead a hug from Krueger to his Henry Ford Heart doctor says it all. She changed his life.

Three years ago it was holiday time at his Lake Orion school, where he's a part of the adult transition program for students with developmental disabilities. Krueger was born with the genetic condition Down syndrome, but it’s an unrelated virus that's causes his heart to fail.

He got very sick and then underwent a complex surgery to implant a heart pump.

Krueger is passionate about school, Special Olympics and he's an accomplished hunter thanks to countless outings with his dad. However, the underlying thought was how long could the pump work, and would a heart transplant be too risky? 

Henry Ford Heart Doctor Christina Tita poured through the research. "It's always weighing the risks and benefits and doing what's best for patient,” she says.

Then the decision was made - for long term quality of life, Krueger should get a new heart. In September, 2018, the call came that there was a donor. 

It took eight hours of surgery, then recovery and now - "He’s back to before he was sick, just as bubbly and a people person as before," Dr. Tita says.

Krueger’s smile expresses his joy and to the family who donated the heart, it's hard for everyone to express enough gratitude.