Ask a 10-year-old boy what he wants for his birthday, and you're likely to get an answer like: games, toys, a new bike, or maybe just straight cash. Joseph Gonzalez-Salas' wish list for his 11th birthday was a little different. After nearly three years of living with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that negatively affects the way the heart pumps blood, all Joseph wanted was a new heart.
Last July, Joseph was miraculously granted that wish and received a heart transplant at Mayo's Rochester campus — on his 11th birthday.
As the NBC's TODAY Show recently reported, Joseph's health issues began in 2013, when he started to "feel ill" back home in Panama. To his parents' dismay, doctors diagnosed him with dilated cardiomyopathy — the same condition that had taken his sister's life just seven months after she was diagnosed. She was 8 years old. Not wanting Joseph to "suffer the same fate," his father, Ezequiel Gonzalez, did "extensive research" that led him to Mayo Clinic as "the best option for his young son."
Read the rest of Joseph's story.
This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.