Heart failure

Hahnville woman plans event to benefit teen with heart failure

Nicholas Eirich with doctor.

For a year of his life, Nicholas Eirich knew what it was like to have energy, breathe easy and do everything other kids like the 14-year-old could do.

But then things started to go downhill and he was once again embroiled in the battle he has fought for most of his life, ever since he had open-heart surgery at nine days old. only.

Eirich, 17, was born with a congenital heart defect, which prompted this operation. This seemed to solve the problem until 2019, when Eirich’s family learned that his heart was failing – and that he would need a transplant. His family, friends and community stepped forward to help the family, both in terms of moral support and financial donations, and Eirich eventually received his heart.

“Until he got the transplant, in his whole life, he never knew what it was like to have that normal level of energy,” said Meshell Northcutt of Hahnville, a close friend. of Eirich’s mother, Gena. “He didn’t realize he was running at half capacity. He felt really good for a year…it changed his life.

“But he is again struggling to breathe and get through each day. His heart fails. »

Northcutt, who led efforts to raise more than $40,000 for the family through GoFundMe and other fundraisers after Eirich was initially diagnosed with heart failure in 2019, said Eirich had to endure hurdles after obstacle over the past two years.

About 19 months after he was first diagnosed with heart failure, Eirich began feeling ill on a late Sunday evening in September 2020. The family contacted his cardiologist who advised him to seek treatment at the hospital. . When he arrived, he received frightening news: his body was in severe heart rejection, and worse, doctors gave him only a 50% chance of living.

He was intubated and put on life support immediately, and over the next two weeks his body would battle a litany of serious issues. He fell into kidney failure. He developed an infection where tubes were inserted into his chest for life support. He suffered severe muscle damage to his legs and a lot of muscle had to be removed. He developed resistance to one of his anti-rejection drugs.

But all that said, he fought through and he wouldn’t have needed another transplant initially because things would have stabilized.
Unfortunately, other challenges are piling up on him. Diabetes and COVID-19 among them – the latter led to the postponement of a cardiac procedure. Eventually, all of this led to Eirich officially needing another transplant.

“It’s a tricky situation because to be on the transplant list…you have to be sick, but you have to be well enough to be a candidate for a heart,” Northcutt said. “So it was a very emotional time. He’s been on the roster for a few weeks, and now it’s just a matter of waiting.

For Eirich, it’s more of a burden to bear than it’s fair to anyone, let alone someone who’s not yet an adult. For his parents, it is also an unfathomable stress.

“I always say Gena is the strongest person I know, but she can’t do much – inside she’s a nervous wreck,” Northcutt said. “Anytime his phone makes a sound, it could be that call (for a transplant), and you have to be ready to go.”

Northcutt is planning a fundraiser again to help the Eirichs. A fried fish, jambalaya and white bean sale is scheduled for August 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bruce’s Fatboys Retreat in Luling. Along with the food will be a day of music, including performances by Will Dempsey, Rockin Dopsie and DJ Fish. There will also be a 50-50 raffle.

“We wanted to wait for him to be put back on (the transplant list), and once that happened, it was time to get the ball rolling,” she said. “We’re going to need blood drives… we’re going to need help.”