His heart health later declined, and River returned to Riley in December 2018. By February, he was critically ill. Decisive care by River’s medical team helped him survive several crises that required ECMO life support and 158 days on the Berlin Heart. This donor-funded device mechanically supported River’s heart until Riley Pediatric Heart Surgeon Mark Turrentine, M.D., performed a heart transplant on May 29, 2019.
Riley’s pediatric cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked 5th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. According to River’s parents, Zach and Brittany Harbin, Riley also ranks high in personalized care and kindness. “When we say Riley is a part of our family, we mean that—from the parking garage staff to the cleaning staff to the people who delivered his meals, and all the nurses and the doctors,” said Brittany.
River starts kindergarten this year. His family is looking forward to that – and many more – important milestones for their super hero in the years ahead.
“River is caring, loving and funny,” Brittany said. “I hope and pray he’s fought his battles early on and will have a long, healthy, happy life.”