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Little Heart Honoree family to be honored at Upstate Heart Ball Feb. 16

When Jones Sucher arrived July 11, 2017, his parents, Rob and Blair Sucher were instantly in love. Every indication throughout Blair Sucher’s pregnancy was that Jones was perfectly healthy, but in fact, he had a heart defect – a bicuspid aortic valve that had caused aortic stenosis and an enlarged heart that took up half of his chest cavity.

“All through my pregnancy and in the beginning, we thought Jones was this perfect little baby,” Blair Sucher said. “He always had a weird breathing pattern but we knew every baby is different.”

Jones stopped eating well and by the first day of 2018, he had a fever.

“That following week, he was still not doing well with his bottles,” Sucher said.

Soon after, Jones started a day care program. On the first day, he vomited after eating. A visit to the pediatrician showed that he had lost two pounds. Things moved quickly after that, with Jones’ doctor diagnosing a heart problem and sending him to Prisma Health Children’s Hospital (formerly known as Greenville Health System’s Children’s Hospital). From there, he was airlifted to MUSC in Charleston for treatment. Six months after his birth, Jones underwent an emergency balloon procedure to increase blood flow.

“He was doing better, but his heart was just not turning itself around,” Sucher said.

In late April, the family met with the heart transplant team at MUSC. Just a few weeks later, the plan moved forward.

“We had him baptized in our backyard and headed to Charleston,” Sucher said.

Jones was on the heart transplant list for just four days before a match became available.

“That’s just unheard of,” Sucher said. “We thought it would be months to a year.”

Before the hours of surgery, Sucher said she and her husband held Jones and prayed.

“I just cried, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that we unfortunately were taking the heart of another baby,” she said. “I think about that family all the time. We are at the point where I can send them a letter, and I definitely am going to do that. It’s up to them as to whether they reach out.”

That family’s decision, as well as research and medical advancements in caring for children born with heart defects, means that Jones is alive and well. He is thriving and delighting his parents by walking and singing. He will eventually need another transplant, but the hope is that it won’t be needed until adulthood.

“In the meantime, he can play sports and do all the things a normal child can do,” Sucher said.

The Suchers are using their son’s story to promote awareness of the work of the American Heart Association. They will be the Little Heart Honoree family at the Upstate Heart Ball Feb. 16.

“If it was 10 years ago, he might not be with us,” Sucher said. “We hope that we can talk about it as much as we can and open the opportunities for people to donate.”

Sucher said her son’s heart is a gift that can never be repaid.

“That family – their child lives on in Jones,” she said.

The Upstate Heart Ball is Feb. 16 at the Greenville Convention Center. For details and tickets, visit http://upstate