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St. Vincent's youngest heart transplant patient reunites with doctors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - He's the youngest heart transplant recipient St. Vincent has ever served and on Thursday he reunited with the doctors who helped save his life. 

Will Chance is a 16-year-old from Noblesville who loves video games and military history. 

He went to the doctor a couple years ago with stomach pain. They did a scan and learned his heart had enlarged.  

"We don't really know why," St. Vincent Cardiac Surgeon Chris Salerno said. "Maybe a virus."

Salerno said the situation was life-threatening. Doctors treated Will for several complications before installing a mechanical heart pump. 

"When he walked around, he had to carry batteries with him and a controller and he had a power cord coming through the skin," Salerno said. 

The pump was designed to keep Will alive until he could get a heart transplant. 

St. Vicent called the Chances in September 2017 to tell them they had a heart for Will. 

Salerno performed the surgery a few days later, and on Thursday the Chance family celebrated its success. 

But presurgery, Will said he gave his family some words of encouragement:

"No matter where I wake up, it's going to be a good place," Will said. "If I were to wake up here in the hospital with a new heart, that would be good. Or if I wake up in heaven, that would be good, too."

Will said he's happy to lose what he calls "extra luggage." He's looking forward to this summer. 

"Getting to do stuff with my friends and being able to keep up with them more and be able to do certain things I wasn't able to do before, like go swimming," Will said. 

The Chance family said, when the time is right, they'll reach out to the donor's family to say thanks. 

"Because of them I'm here today able to live a normal teenager life," Will said. 

Will takes medication daily to keep his body from rejecting the heart, but doctors said he is recovering well from surgery. 

He may need another transplant, as the average post-surgery survival length is about 15 years.

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