Battery-operated device pumps life into Brothers from Porter - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Battery-operated device pumps life into Brothers from Porter

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PORTER, Texas (FOX 26) -

A pair of brothers from the Texas town of Porter are like most teens. They like to play video games, watch TV, hang out with their pets, but they have a lot more responsibilities and burdens than most. Both of them rely on a heart pump to keep them alive.

19-year-old Tyler and 16-year-old Austin have a genetic disorder called Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. It's a disease that weakens their arms and legs and has severely damaged their hearts. Their mom has had to deal with this devastating disease her entire life. "It started out with my uncles, four cousins, and both of my brothers were diagnosed. There's only my two boys and two cousins left, everyone has passed away from this disease," says Jennifer Davis. Jennifer is a single mom and unable to leave home. Taking care of her sons is her full-time job. She's relieved that medical care has come so far. Decades ago, her brothers had the same team of doctors, who are now treating her sons, at Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. Luckily, treatments have advanced a lot since her brothers lost their battle to the disease. "I was just a kid and it was just very devastating. I'm still not over it and never will be - they were my brothers. They're all I had. One was 18, the other 29. He had a transplant at 19 and survived 10 years before he died. My 18 year old brother didn't have time for a transplant because they didn't realize how sick he was.

These boys know how fortunate they are to have a pump, that helps keep their hearts going, but socially, it's tough.

"People stare at you and say you're carrying a man bag - and I say - I'm not carrying a man bag, it's a heart pump and they feel bad and say, oh! Then they're sorry and really don't know what it's like to have someone judge you because you have a heart pump," says Austin.

Even though they get lots of questions, these brothers are relieved to have the extra help of an LVAD, or left ventricular assist device. The tubing goes into their abdomen, so constant bandage changes are a must. The boys have to re-charge their batteries every 14-hours. It's a chore they don't mind. "It's a gift from God because I wouldn't be here if I didn't have it," says Tyler. The same for Austin. "It makes me live longer! I wouldn't be here today if I didn't have this," says Austin. He goes on to say, "It helps my heart from not needing a heart transplant. A heart transplant normally lasts only 10 years, and it helps my heart - I'll die if I don't have this."

The pumps are a bridge to a heart transplant though, because a pump typically lasts about seven years. Their mom is just glad they have options. "They're my world! I can't imagine my life without them - the thought of losing them, I couldn't handle it," says Jennifer. People don't realize what it entails to have a sick child and everything rides on you and worry if a machine is going to go off and to take all the responsibility - it's a lot. Jennifer can use all the financial help she can get. It's very expensive to stay home with her children and have so many medical visits, parking etc. While the boys have health insurance, the out-of-pocket costs can be huge.

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