Graduation Day Brings A New Heart for Teen

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For most high school seniors, graduation day means celebration and a new beginning.  But for one Wichita boy who's spent his entire senior year in Kansas City, this year's graduation day literally meant a new life.

For nine months Jacob Harris has lived in a hospital room at St. Luke's Mid American Heart Institute. It was his senior year. For most, that means high school football games, school work and prom.

But for Harris, it meant being kept alive by a machine.

"In a different way then probably most people," said Harris.

The 17-year old was born with an abnormal heart valve and spent nearly a year waiting for a new heart.

"He had told us he was, you know, he was going to miss his entire senior year and we told him, you may miss it but you can still graduate," said his father Randy Harris.

Earlier this month, Harris was too sick to attend his graduation.  His mother took the stage for him while Harris watched from his room.

"Not being there was kind of difficult," he said.

The moment was bitter sweet, but a prediction was about to come true.

"A couple months before he kept telling us, I think I'm going to get it on graduation.  I think graduation is going to be my lucky day," his father explains.

Harris was right - hours later, diploma by his side, he learned he was getting the gift of life.

"She says, we got a heart, we got a heart.  You need to be here now," Harris' mother Rebecca explains the phone call that came in around 1:30am.

"It was an exciting moment," said his father.

"A second chance," Harris added.

Now, just ten days later, Harris is finally leaving St. Luke's.  That second chance thanks to a new heart and the determination of Harris and his second family at the Heart Institute.

"I'm not in jail anymore," Harris said.

"It's an open slate for him.  He can do anything he wants to do," his father said.

Harris' new lease on life is thanks to a donor.

To sign up to become an organ donor you can go to www.organdonor.gov. St. Luke's says its also important to talk to your family and let them know your wishes.

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