Teenager released after receiving heart, liver transplants

WAUWATOSA -- A teenage boy was released from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Tuesday morning, April 24th after a historic operation. He's the first child to receive both a heart and liver transplant.

15-year-old Thomas Castillo went into surgery for 17 hours on February 29th. He first received a new heart, then a new liver. Both organs were from the same donor.

Castillo had already undergone three heart operations before the transplant, after being born with a complex heart disease. He also fought a series of liver problems as well. Even after the surgery, Castillo had a stroke.

Tuesday morning, Castillo flashed smiles and even waved from his wheelchair. He and his grandparents say they've been working with the doctors and nurses at Children's since 2009. For them, it's bittersweet to leave.

"For us being here as long as we have been, it's hard for us to just uproot. It's like this is our second home and for us to uproot, it's kind of difficult," Santos Morin, Thomas' grandfather said.

Castillo's grandparents thanked the doctors and nurses that cared for Thomas during his long journey. "I thought one day I'd try to take a picture of everyone involved in the care of a patient, just to see what was really involved, and it would literally be hundreds of people. Every one of them has to do their job very well," one of Castillo's doctors said.

The family has not yet learned the name of the organ donor. At some point in the future, they say they'd like to meet with that family. As they left Children's Hospital Tuesday, they said they are hoping this was Castillo's last surgery, and that they are headed for a better life. "Once he had his heart, we'd close that book and open another book, and now we're starting our new chapter here," Castillo's grandmother Linda Rebels said.

Castillo is headed back to the Chicagoland area where he will begin rehabilitation.