Community comes together to support teen with heart failure - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Community comes together to support teen with heart failure

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Family and friends rallied behind a Kentucky college student Sunday at the Wildwood Country Club.

The benefit for 19 year old Bryce Yates will help pay thousand of dollars in medical expenses. The 19 year old Eastern Kentucky University student went from happy and healthy to heart failure all over Thanksgiving break.

Yates said, "I thought I had the flu or something. I just felt weak and short breath." The flu like feeling ended up putting Yates in the emergency room Thanksgiving night and in a drug induced coma for several days with a diagnosis that no one saw coming.

Doctors told his family that Yates had an infection in the left ventricle of his heart that had gone unnoticed, possibly for years. The teenager was in congestive heart failure heading for cardiac arrest. His mother, Chantel Slinger tearfully remembered the moment when the surgeons broke the news.

"They told us that our child was actively dying. He was fighting to die," said Slinger.

"They (doctors) said this is a classic example of where you see these professional athletes die on the middle of the basketball court or the football field. You think they're perfectly  healthy but these signs and symptoms go unnoticed because they're young and healthy and their bodies can compensate a lot better," said Bryce's father Jeremy Yates. 

After two open heart surgeries and 42 days in the hospital Yates now lives with a machine attached to his hip doing the work that his heart can't while it heals.  While Yates climbs out of the dark sickness a cloud of hospital bills still lingers for his family. Jeremy Yates said, "We're looking at over a million dollars." Yates father is a full time Kentucky Air National Guardsmen, his mother is an ER nurse.

Family members organized the fundraiser at Wildwood to help pay for the tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills that insurance won't cover. Local musicians volunteered their talents and companies donated items for a silent auction.  More tears from Slinger, " I cannot believe the amount of support we've gotten from the community. It's just overwhelming."

No one's really happy about what brings them to the country club but they're elated to see the man standing in the middle of the room. 

Yates said, "It's made me sit back and realize I don't take anything for granted because before I would have never thought this would happen to me."

The "Benefit for Bryce"  raised $10,000 Sunday. The family said it will be put toward his $12,000 insurance deductible and the 17 prescriptions he takes daily. An account has also been set up at PNC bank if you'd like to donate. 

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