Teenager recovering at home after heart transplant


FAIRLAND — It’s been seven weeks since fourteen year-old Nate Wells had a heart transplant. He’s well enough to go home, but he still has a long road to recovery.

7 weeks after he got a new heart Nate Wells is mostly housebound, but he says it’s much better be surrounded by family than doctors.

“It’s good to be home and in a regular bed,” he says. His mom, Karen Wells, chimes in, “It’s good to have home cooked food.” “The 14 year-old quickly replies, “Yes, yes very much.” 

(How’re you feeling today?) “Good.”

His aunt and uncle say that’s usually the answer he gives, even though sometimes that’s clearly not the case. Since the month he was born he’s been in an out of the hospital with heart-related problems. For years he couldn’t do much without his Oxygen bag. After the operation he can breathe easier both literally and figuratively. 

His mom asks, “When you got the call how did you feel?” He responds, “Nervous, excited.” 

No matter how nervous he was, nothing was scarier than the thought of missing out on things his 14 year-old heart wouldn’t let him do. Now those things don’t feel so far away.

“Baseball…”Going hiking at Turkey Run.”

That’s a while off, and so is going back to school. Just because he can’t spend time with his classmates doesn’t mean they haven’t tried. Soon after he got home the seventh and eighth graders in Villa Grove filled two school buses. Destination: the Wells’ house.

Karen Wells says, “They just made a lap around the park and had signs hanging out the school bus windows and said welcome home, Nate, and hollered at him and said merry Christmas. Then he stepped out to end of the walk and gave him a thumbs up to let them know he was mobile and he was home. They said that was all they really wanted for Christmas too, was to see him home and doing well.”

The family can’t do much for the time being, but they all agree being home for Christmas was a blessing and they’re already planning for the future. For now they’re taking that one step at a time.

Nate says, I’m still sore, but it’s getting easier and easier.”

Right after his transplant there was a clear difference. For years his lips and other parts of his face had a blue color to them. His mom says the transplant gave him a much warmer color in his face.

Nate says he plans to play baseball once he’s able and ready, and he already has something to practice for. The family says the Illini baseball team asked if he’d like to throw out the first pitch at a game this season. They’re hoping he’ll be ready to do it in spring.


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