ROCHESTER, Minn. - An 11-year-old Minnesota boy and a retired teacher from South Dakota have developed a special bond.
Right now, both are at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester waiting for life-saving transplants. Isyriss Yeager, 11, is waiting for a new heart. Yeager has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS. He has been on the transplant waiting list since Dec. 1, 2016. The left side of his heart never developed correctly.
“My heart was sick so they did surgery,” he said. “I was born with half (a heart).”
But the love inside Yeager’s heart is whole.
On the day we met Yeager he was in a kitchen at the Mayo Clinic preparing macaroni and cheese, his favorite entrée, for his friends, including his math tutor, Gwen Hall.
“You fed five people with one box,” Hall said, sitting at the dinner table. “How many people can you feed with three boxes?”
“Fifteen,” Yeager answered after multiplying five by three on his fingers.
Hall, 63, is waiting for a lung transplant. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. She’s been on the waiting list 18 months. The friendship between Hall and Yeager blossomed over long months at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Hall is a retired teacher from South Dakota and a licensed tutor in Minnesota. She has spent her time in the hospital tutoring Yeager in math. They are currently working on multiplication. Both hope their lives change, soon.
“There is nothing I can do in my situation. It might sound crazy but I am grateful,” Hall said, gazing at Yeager sitting in a chair next to her. “I can do something with what I have here at this time and that is what Isyriss is to me. A person to share with. To spend time with. And we encourage each other and we are just good friends.”
As they wait for their life-saving organs, time is the greatest gift the two can give each other. The two say they pray for and encourage each other.
“If I could throw that out the window and never use it again, that would be nice,” Yeager told Hall while pointing to the IV pole tethered to his body.
Hall replied, “We’ve got to stay positive. Our time will come. Our time will come.”
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