CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) A Christiansburg teen is fighting for his life waiting on a heart transplant and is in need of help from his home state.
Devin Hairston has been battling a Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) since the day he was born 17 years ago. It's one of the most complex and challenging cardio defects to manage, and Devin's case is more severe due to other complications.
His family said the day after he was born, hospital staff noticed something was wrong. They told his mother, Tasha Akers, they had to fly him to Duke Medical Center, but they didn't expect him to survive the flight.
His aunt Lynette Banks explained, "His heart was on the right side versus ours being on the left, he was born with only one chamber, which a normal heart has four."
He had three surgeries to build a new heart, but it was only temporary.
The first surgery was a Blalock-Taussig Shunt procedure, where the shunt was inserted between the aorta or one of its branches and the pulmonary artery to increase blood flow to his lungs and decrease how blue his skin was.
The second surgery, a Glenn, was performed six months later to divert half of the blood to the lungs when the lungs no longer need as much pressure to circulate the blood.
The final surgery, a Fontan, is standard for patients with single ventricle defects.
These procedures did not fix the heart problems, but allowed Devin to grow and live longer, however he stopped growing at the age of 5-years old.
When he was 15, he started showing signs of heart failure. Fluid began building up in his abdomen making it hard to breathe.
On March 25, he was hospitalized and doctors mentioned Devin needing a transplant. A little more than two weeks later on April 14, he was able to go home for a week and a half. However, on April 26, Devin and Tasha were back at Duke and he was placed in the ICU.
Doctors believed he would be towards to top of the transplant list, but over the last few weeks, Devin became week and malnourished and his Protein Losing Enteropathy has gotten worse, so he is not able to get the transplant.
All of this news was difficult to those who knew Devin best.
His former teacher at Christiansburg High school, Katherine Murphy, said of Devin, "Even now, he's not one of my students, I still like seeing him in the hall and talking to him and seeing how his day was going and I've really missed that since he's been gone."
A good friend and senior at CHS, Ryan Watson, said, "The first day that he left, I was looking for all my teachers [asking], 'Where's Devin? Is he okay?' And as soon as I heard the news, I was devastated."
Devin's cousin Myha Lloid said, "I have a class with Devin and when I have a really bad day, it hurts to not be able to go in my class and have that person to make my day ten times better."
Another cousin, Destiny Akers, added, "It breaks my heart to see my mom upset and my aunt upset and seeing him cry and upset and in pain but when we're around him it's like he hides all that."
But hide it or not, Devin and his family need help. They need donations and any kind of gifts that can help get Devin through this.
"His spirits have been so down that you rarely ever see him smile anymore and I know that he worries that his mom isn't financially stable enough to be there, but she is [by his bedside], and so I know that's a lot of stress on him as well," Banks said.
Tasha has been out of work for three months, refusing to leave his bedside, even sleeping in a chair next to his bed every night. But even though they're not home, the bills keep piling up in Christiansburg.
Banks set up a GoFundMe page for Devin. A link to the page is attached to the right of this article
She also said Devin loves sports, and any kind of cards or memorabilia could help change his demeanor for the better. She explained after 17 years of fighting, his spirits seem to be broken.
The one thing he wants more than anything is to go home, Banks said, but that's not possible.
Devin especially likes the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team and NBA stars Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant.
Any gifts or cards can be addressed to Devin and sent to the Duke Medical Center ICU at 2301 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27710
His school is also getting into the fundraising, having already started with a fundraiser to pie a teacher in the face for Devin.
A friend and CHS Junior, Deja Stewart, said of the help, "It just made me really happy to see that people were really trying to be there for him in any way possible, even those who didn't quite know him as well, or they've heard of him, they just wanted to help in any way."
Maureen Powers, another teacher at CHS, added, "I really want our community and our school to come around to make sure that he gets the support that he needs because he's such a great asset to our community and he needs all the help that he can get."
While the support is great, his loved ones said what they're really looking forward to is having him home.
Another of Devin's cousins, Ire'yon Mitchell, said of when he, hopefully, comes home, "I want to have him a welcome home party just so everyone can know that he's home and better."
For now, however Devin must stay in the hospital, and Banks said there are discussions to move him to another medical facility.
Hospital staff said in a letter, "His treatment options are limited at this time and all require long hospital stays and multiple types of medications."