Simsbury High School junior and football player Danny Deitz returned to the field almost one month after a lifesaving operation.
Deitz was not playing and instead was named an honorary captain, taking the center of the field for the coin toss before the game. Family, friends, and teammates welcomed the 17-year-old back.
“I’m ecstatic because like I missed him so much and he’s a close friend to me. And now that’s he’s back it’s just awesome,” says Sean Penney, a Simsbury High School junior.
Nearly one-month ago, Deitz traveled to Boston Children’s Hospital for a heart transplant and a second chance at life. Doctors had determined his heart was enlarged and causing him complications.
Originally, Deitz had prepared for a long wait for a transplant but that wait ended after just two months.
“I get a call like 7:30 in the morning and we’re like, let’s do this,” says Deitz.
The surgery lasted about seven hours and was considered a success. For now, Deitz is taking it easy and slowing regaining his strength.
He walks around his neighborhood, wears a mask to protect from getting sick, and takes medications to further help prevent the heart from being rejected. On Friday, he felt well enough to return to the football field, at least to watch the game against New Britain.
“It feels great. I wish I could be playing. Just being around the team is great,” says Deitz.
Deitz says he was blown away by the support of his community. He hopes to return to school next semester.
“I’m still grateful for everyday I’m alive,” says Deitz.
As of right now, Deitz knows very little about the person his new heart came from but he hopes that changes in the future.
He hopes this also reminds every one of the importance of being an organ donor.