FOREST PARK, Ga. - Christmas came early for a Forest Park family this past year. Fourteen-year-old Deandre Balfour received a life-saving heart transplant. Doctors at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center performed Balfour's surgery.
Balfour and his parents were overjoyed and said that for the first time, the 14-year-old will be able to life to the fullest.
"I've been waiting for this for a real long time, and my mom and dad they know this is the right heart for me," said Balfour.
Just 14 months after being placed on the list for an organ transplant, Balfour's parents got the call last week.
"I was so happy, I went to calling everybody I was so happy. I woke up Andre, he was asleep. I said, 'Oh thank you! I can't believe the time has come.' We waited for 14 years for this to happen," said Balfour's mother, Deidra.
The Balfours got word of a donor match on the very day the teen predicted he would get a new heart, December 13.
"Thirteen sounded like yeah, that's a good day!" recalled the teen.
The youngest of five children, Deandre Balfour was born with congenital heart defects and underwent five heart surgeries during the first 13 years of his life.
"He's never complained, about anything. Through five open heart surgeries he never complained," said Balfour's father, Sergeant Irvin Balfour.
In 2009, Deandre's father transferred to Fort McPherson because of its proximity to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center.
That September, doctors at the pediatric cardiac center placed the teen on the heart transplant waiting list.
One week after his heart transplant, hospital staff presented Deandre with a heart transplant bead for his Beads of Courage necklace.
With help from his mom, the 14-year-old added the heart shaped bauble to the necklace, each bead a record of the many tests and procedures, big and small he's had during his young life.
The operation was a success, and now the Forest Park teen is eager to make up for all he's missed out on all these years.
Deandre said he already knows the first thing he's going to do when he's back on his feet.
"I'm going to play me some basketball," said the teen.
Deandre's parents said he is their miracle.
"This is the best Christmas ever. I don't even want anything. This is my Christmas," said Deidra Balfour.
The teen's parents said they are extremely grateful to the organ donor and that individual's family for giving their son such a precious gift.
The family also had high praise for the staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, their friends and family who have been with them every step of the way.