3-year-old needs heart transplant for same condition as older brother

3-year-old son is on life support

Where a family finds themselves for a second time, they would never wish any family find themselves once.

At the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Burger family is waiting for a heart transplant for their 3-year-old son, Ivan. Seven years ago, their son Ezra received a heart transplant in the same hospital.

A Berlin heart machine is keeping Ivan alive while the family waits for a transplant.

“Waiting is the hardest part. I carry this pager on me. I sleep with the pager. I have it with me 24/7,” said Leo Burger, the father of the two boys.

He carries the pager to allow the hospital’s transplant coordinator to contact him as soon as a suitable heart can be found for Ivan.

“Maybe it is going to buzz soon, but then it doesn’t, so that’s the hardest part. We only had to wait eight days with Ezra, and we’re on 20- some days now with Ivan. It’s very hard,” Burger said.

Ezra had acute heart failure when he was 18 months old. The experience has helped the family know what to expect with Ivan.

“We know how patient you have to be, and so I feel like this time around I kind of know what to expect,” said Annie Burger, the mother of the two boys.

The family understands better than most how important organ donation is.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 118,368 individuals are in need of an organ transplant in this country. There are currently 75,981 people on an active wait list and, on average, 22 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

Having Ezra with them while they wait for Ivan’s transplant is a reminder there is hope.

“Yes, and that’s part of the reason Ezra is here with us,” Annie Burger said.

To help with medical expenses a GoFundMe account has been set up.