DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — A 12 year old fights for his life at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville.
Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect to the left side of the heart that hinders blood circulation, Noah McKnight has spent more than 200 days at the hospital awaiting a heart transplant.
His father, Andrew McKnight, said although Noah has underwent three open-heart surgeries in the past, his heart can't sufficiently support him as he continues to grow.
"It's a waiting game," Andrew said. "It's God choice when he's going to fulfill that. It's a prayer. It's a wish. I's hope. It's faith. It's very emotional."
Andrew said he moved to DeFuniak Springs from Pennsylvania with his five children in 2015. His hope was to give them a life away from the big city.
Four years ago Noah was diagnosed with bronchial casts, large obstructions within the lungs, Andrew said. Things have continued to go downhill in the last two years, he added.
After being scheduled for surgery in Pennsylvania to have the casts removed, Andrew said they traveled to Gainesville last May to have a cardiac catheterization to see if Noah's heart was healthy enough for surgery.
It wasn't, and the two have been at the hospital's pediatric center since.
"There's no other options for Noah," Andrew said. "Noah needs to have a heart. There's no other surgeries, no nothing that can help him gain life more than what he has already."
In the meantime, Andrew said his oldest son, 21-year-old Nathan, has stepped up and is looking after the rest of the McKnight crew in DeFuniak Springs.
Since Noah was admitted into the hospital, Andrew said a friend of the family started a GoFundMe account to help them stay on their feet.
"It's been a hard ride as a single parent and just being separated from the kids," said Andrew, who added those waiting for a transplant normally only have a few-hours notice before being admitted into surgery.
"He's only got half a heart, but he's got more heart than most people I know," he said.
To help the McKnights, visit www.gofundme.com/5swpqn4