Mustang High School student awaits life-saving transplant

Ethan Ellis is trying to keep up with his school work while at the same holding out hope for a life-saving transplant.

Ethan lives in Yukon and attends Mustang High School, where he is a junior.

Since Sept. 11, Ethan has been a patient at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where he is awaiting a heart transplant.

Ethan said Wednesday, by phone, that he is doing well and praying for a miracle.

That miracle would be a new heart, which is the only thing that can save the 17-year-old’s life. His heart is too sick for him to survive outside of the hospital setting, his mother, Chandra Sowers, said.

The family went to St. Louis in September for tests after doctors at OU Medical  Center detected an issue.

Sowers said they expected it to be a short trip.

“We weren’t expecting to stay, but his heart was much sicker than we realized,” she said.

In addition, because the pressures in his heart had been high, his liver was damaged.

He is in congestive heart failure, she said. The only option is a transplant.

Sowers said her son is at the top of the transplant list, but finding a transplant might be difficult because of the medications he has taken throughout his life.

“I pretty much just look at it as ‘if he’s ok, I’m OK.’ It’s how I’ve had to do it his whole life,” she said.

Ethan has already had five open heart surgeries. The first happened when he was just four months old.

He was diagnosed as an infant with ventricular septal defect, which is a hole in the heart.

Experts say the disorder can occur in 1 out 500 births.

Sowers said neither she nor her son’s original pediatrician detected the issue until his four-month checkup.

“I had an ultrasound done when I was 20-months pregnant,” she said. Her doctor thought there might be an issue and advised that they monitor the issue.

She said her first pediatrician thought there might be a murmur.

“He was a very healthy-looking baby. There was no indication to us,” said Sowers. “He had none of the normal signs of a child with a heart defect.”

Sower said her son is scared about the future, but is handling the situation well.

“He is handling it amazingly well,” she said.

Meanwhile, he remains a student at Mustang High School and is studying online.

“It’s very helpful so that I don’t get too far behind,” he said.

He’s attended Mustang schools since kindergarten.

Sowers said the hospital provides teachers and a classroom where patients can study.

He keeps up with his friends in Yukon and Mustang via text and social media. But, his mother said he is ready to get out of the hospital.

“It is overwhelmingly. He’s ready to come home, I think,” she said.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts for the family are gearing up.

Much of the transplant costs are expected to be covered by Sower’s insurance. However, the cost of the medication that he will need in the future may not.

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association is attempting to raise funds for the family.

Laura Holley, the public relations coordinator for COTA, said donations can be sent to 2501 W. COTA Drive in Bloomington, Indiana 47403. Checks should be made payable to COTA with “In honor of Ethan E.” written on the memo line.

Donations also can be made online at cotaforethane.com.

Any money that is donated goes to Ethan, but can only be used for transplant-related expense, Holley said.

Those expenses include things like the anti-rejection medications, which can costs thousands of dollars.

The group is trying to raise at least $60,000 to help.

Sowers said she is stunned by the outpouring of love.

“I’m still in shock. All of the people coming to help. I am in shock that this is even happening,” she said.

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