This undated photo shows Christopher Brazell. After his death at age 8, his heart was given to 4-year-old Jon Hochstein, who recently graduated from Harvard Medical School.
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This undated photo shows Jon Hochstein in a hospital bed at Salt Lake City’s Primary Children’s Hospital. Hochstein, at age 4, received a donated heart from Christopher Brazell, who was killed by a speeding truck in Wendover.
This undated photo shows Jon Hochstein and family graduating from Harvard Medical School. Hochstein, at age 4, received a donated heart from Christopher Brazell, who was killed by a speeding truck in Wendover.
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This collage of photos shows moments from the life of Jon Hochstein, who was given a heart at the age of 4.
SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-three years ago, Elisabeth Brazell was walking the corridors of Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, trying to cope with the loss of her 8-year-old son Christopher, when she saw two little feet hanging out of a blanket in the pediatric ward. care unit.
After asking a nurse what was wrong with the little patient, she was told that the 4-year-old boy named Jon Hochstein was waiting for a heart donor. His condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, was so serious that he was placed on a ventilator.
“Right now you are just overwhelmed with the loss of your brother and son,” Christopher’s sister, April Hough, said at a news conference on Wednesday. “But when my mom saw Jon, she thought if Christopher’s death could help anyone else, we should do it.”
Christopher was hit by a speeding truck while walking in a school zone in Wendover. His injuries were too numerous and too serious to survive. His mother initially decided she didn’t want to donate his organs, but when she saw Jon, she changed her mind. The family donated his heart to Jon and his liver and kidneys to other children in need of a transplant.
Because his heart swelled in his chest cavity, there happened to be enough room for Christopher’s heart to fit perfectly.
“Unlike adults, children normally need to get an organ from someone about the same age and size as them,” says Rose Linsler, a nurse practitioner who was Jon’s bedside nurse. “After looking at everything Jon had been through, we just needed this last thing to work. He was just this cute curly-headed little boy who lived in the children’s ICU and everyone loved and adored him.”
After receiving Christopher’s heart, Hochstein made a full recovery. However, in 2003, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that affected his immune system. After a year of treatment, his body began to reject his heart. Doctors quickly administered new immunosuppressants that helped him overcome the adversity.
Today, Hochstein, 27, is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and just beginning his residency at Boston Children’s Hospital. He wants to specialize in heart transplant care.
“I tell people I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was 4 because of the Primary Children’s Hospital experience,” Hochstein said. “I didn’t understand what the doctors were doing. I just knew I wanted to grow up and help people the way they helped me.”
Two years ago, Hochstein and his family were first connected to Christopher’s family—and they could listen to his heartbeat.
“It was like running home from the playground again,” Hough said. “The loss of Christopher was earth shattering, but meeting Jon and his family was incredibly life changing. I don’t think I’ve ever met such a humble person in all my life. I take comfort in the knowledge that Christopher’s legacy will live on through Jon, who will help save other children.”