Son of Naval Academy offensive coordinator undergoes heart transplant
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: January 31, 2018
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The Jasper family has been praying for a miracle for the past five months.
Those prayers were answered Monday when Navy football offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper and his wife, Donna, learned their teenage son was going to get his perfect heart.
Jarren Jasper underwent a heart transplant Tuesday morning at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Barbara Niumatalolo, wife of Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo, reported from the hospital that the surgery was a success and Jarren’s new heart was beating on its own.
Ivin Jasper provided this update on Tuesday morning just prior to noon.
“Jarren received his new heart early this morning. The surgery went well and he’s been moved to his room,” Jasper wrote in a text message. “Early test results are positive, but the next 24 hours will be huge.”
The 24 hours following the transplant are the most crucial because that is when the body either accepts or rejects the new organ, doctors have said.
It was unclear how the donor heart became available. Donna Jasper issued the following statement in a text message to ESPN.
“Blessed and thankful the Lord sent us the miracle that we've been waiting for,” Donna Jasper wrote. “Words can't begin to describe the level of happiness this brings to our family. Want to send a special thank you and also send out condolences to the donor family who made this miracle possible.”
Well-wishes poured in from the extended Navy football family with assistant coaches and players posting to social media that they were praying for Jarren.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue for Jarren, Donna, Ivin, Dallas and Jaylen,” coach Niumatalolo wrote in a text message, adding the hashtag #Jarrenstrong.
Jasper has been on the waiting list for a heart transplant since August when a surgery designed to correct an abnormally fast heart rate was unsuccessful. Jarren went into cardiac arrest during the surgery and the subsequent damage to his heart was severe.
Doctors at Children’s National Medical Center determined he needed a replacement heart and in installed a mechanical pump until a donor could be found. Jarren has spent the past four months with a left ventricular assist device helping his heart deliver blood throughout the body.
Jarren was discharged from Children’s National Medical Center Oct. 4 and attended the game between Air Force and Navy at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium the following Saturday. The 14-year-old, a freshman at Broadneck High, attended several other Navy home games the remainder of the season and was a frequent visitor to practice.
Jarren has been going to Children’s National Medical Center almost weekly for routine appointments and received a slight scare prior to the Army-Navy game when doctors were concerned about a possible blood clot. He was admitted to the hospital and the issue was corrected using blood thinners.
Jarren has kept up with his education at Broadneck High through the assistance of tutors and a robot device that goes into the classroom on his behalf.