Father's Day gift: Toddler receives new heart

ATLANTA -- We typically use Father's Day to salute a job well done.

But for new parents, Father's Day can often celebrate the job still to come.

For months, Danielle and Tommy Mariotti of Jefferson, Ga. faced an uncertain future for their 1-year-old son, Jax.

"Late November he started getting sick," said mother Danielle Mariotti. "The cardiologist said, 'Sit down. It's not good. Your child's heart isn't functioning right.'

"And I asked if he was gonna die, and he couldn't tell me."

Jax arrived at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston with an enlarged heart. In February he went on the list for a transplant.

During that time, his mom says, "he never quit smiling. He just kept on going, and he would run around the room."

This past Sunday – Father's Day – brought the most poignant of gifts: a new heart. Jax's parents took a photo a day later of their son after surgery, a smile on his face.

"This is the biggest answer to one of the biggest prayers we've ever had," Danielle Mariotti said. "I hope one day the family [of the heart's donor] can know how much that meant to us, because I know it was hard for them to do that."

Soon, Jax can come home, thanks to a Father's Day gift that gave the whole family a reason to celebrate.


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