Verdigris Boy, 6, Thrives After Getting New Heart

Friday, June 5th 2015, 11:01 am
By: Dave Davis

We have an update in a story we shared with you last winter about a little boy who needed a heart. Riyley Beck from Verdigris nearly died in September after a viral infection that started as a strep throat and spread to his heart.

Now the 6 year old is celebrating a day his family didn't think would come.

Raising three boys under 8 years old is a handful for Sara Phillips, and when a TV camera shows up at their house on Riyley Beck's sixth birthday, it gets - crazy. But Sara wouldn't have it any other way.

"That's why he woke up to all them balloons; he doesn't get it, but I really didn't think he'd be here for his birthday," she said.

Riyley Beck doesn't remember much from the hospital, but his life was in the balance, after surviving a viral heart infection last fall. He was put on a waiting list for a new heart and needed an artificial heart put inside him.

Then in April, Sara got the call she and Riyley had been waiting for when Riyley was matched to a new heart.

11/24/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Five-Year-Old Waits For New Heart While Fighting Deadly Virus

"I cried a lot. I don't know; I couldn't explain it, I was excited and sad all at the same time," his mother said.

Riyley still needs a lot of care. He takes frequent trips to St. Louis and the Children's Hospital. His mom says he needs check-ups in St. Louis every six weeks and that they've back and forth on that route about 12 times.

Regardless of the miles traveled and jobs put on hold, the family is so grateful to have Riyley for another year. Since getting his artificial heart replaced with a flesh and blood version, Sara says he has bounced back to his old self.

"After the heart transplant there was no waiting; he was just like that," she said.

Yes, he's ornery - roughhousing with his older brother and keeping his mom busy - but he's alive. He survived, and that's what his birthday is celebrating.

Thanks to his doctors and nurses nominating him for Make-A-Wish, Riyley and his family recently found out they'll be going to Disney World in July.