Heart transplant

Birthday parade planned for Torrington boy, 5, while awaiting heart transplant

TORRINGTON — Mason Gero turns 5 on February 12, and his family and friends are hosting a parade for him with local emergency vehicles, cars and – hopefully – his favorite, a fire truck.

“He is urgently awaiting a heart transplant,” said Karen Thomas of Torrington. “The situation has become dire and they are patiently waiting for a donor heart for him.”

Thomas, who runs the Friendly Hands Food Bank, said attendees meet at Torrington High School at 2 p.m. next Saturday and then drive to his house a few blocks away.

“I know he loves garbage trucks, and I’m working on getting him one,” she said. “I have already secured a fire engine and a police car, as well as several other vehicles to make this event special.”

Mason’s grandfather, Stuart Gero, a cousin of Thomas, said he would be at the parade.

“He’s such a good little boy,” his grandfather said. “He’s going to Boston on February 24, because up until now he wasn’t really at the top of the waiting list, and there’s a whole process that has to go through before he can get a transplant. “

In 2019, several fundraisers were held for the family to pay for Mason’s mounting medical bills, including a dinner at the Columbia Club/Knights of Columbus Hall in Torrington, where over 700 people showed up.

When Mason was born in 2017, he had what doctors called a complicated heart anatomy, said his mother, who revealed himself shortly after his birth. The family took him to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, who recommended taking the child to Hartford Hospital. There, doctors recommended surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In Boston, doctors performed a double-ventricle repair on Mason’s heart — a 12-hour procedure — but it was unsuccessful, family members said. The doctors operated a second time and they hoped that the operation on the boy’s heart valves had worked; but soon after, Mason was back in Boston with ventricular dysfunction, meaning his heart wasn’t working properly.

“The money that was collected went into an account to help (the family),” Stuart Gero said. “They have a lot of friends who knew how to seize the opportunity.”

The process Mason will begin in Boston involves “desensitizing” the child’s blood, removing all antibodies, so that his body accepts the new heart, family members said.

Meanwhile, Mason is at home with his parents, Danielle Kaczynski and Kyle Gero.

“He’s a typical 4-year-old; he likes to play, likes to learn; he is good at math,” Stuart Gero said. “His parents are just amazing, the way they take care of him and help him learn at home.”

Because Kaczynski and Gero said their baby boy was slowly getting worse.

“It was difficult to ask for help,” Kaczynski said. “It helps to let people know what’s going on. And for his birthday, it’s not safe enough to have a normal party for him, so a car parade is going to be awesome.

January was a tough month for Mason.

“He was sick for a while,” Kaczynski said. “He had an ear infection and the medication was not suitable for him; we ended up in the hospital.

“I can’t deny that his heart failure is getting worse,” she said. “It is time to do something. I kept her at home for her quality of life, but now that she’s declining, I want to. I don’t want to waste a chance to get her a heart.

Mason’s “status” for a transplant has moved from status 2 to status 1B, which is one step before 1A, where he will be eligible for the next available organ, his parents said. “Five years later, here we are,” Kaczynsk said.

“He needs to be treated for the antibodies first, and with the treatments in Boston, he’ll get rid of it and have a better chance of having a heart and accepting it,” his mother said.

The family had a wonderful Christmas, she said, and Mason received lots of toys. His favorite toys are Paw Patrol, The Hulk and fire trucks.

“A lot of people like to drop off gifts at birthday parades, but there’s already a lot of them,” she said. “I would just rather he see the trucks and the cars, and all the people waving and beeping.”