A heart transplant takes super strength, especially when you're 4 years old and you just want to put on a cape and fight bad guys. Here’s a look at a pint-sized crime fighter whose strength and steely determination are nothing short of inspiring.
Stop over to 4-year-old Charlie McMicken's house, and you just might run into a
super hero. "He just pulls out of his chest depending on what mood he's in. Today he's already been Spiderman, now he's Captain America," says mom Sarah.
Like some comic book characters, behind the mask is a real life super hero, too. "He just is what he is, that heroic persona came out of him as part of him," says Dr. Robert Stewart of the Cleveland Clinic.
Charlie was born with a heart problem called cardiomyopathy. When he was 3 years old, his heart became too weak to pump blood to the rest of his body and he had a stroke.
“At that point it was pretty obvious that he wasn't going to do well with his own heart and we listed him for a transplant," says Dr. Stewart.
For the next 8 months, Charlie would call Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital home. Eventually, his heart shut down completely and he relied on a mechanical device called the Berlin Heart. "That's really doing what the failing left ventricle would be doing; it's pumping blood around, so this increases blood, and therefore the amount of oxygen going to his entire body."
It was hard to miss Charlie on his daily walks with the Berlin Heart - strong and brave to the core. “Here's a kid who's got all of his blood in his body coming out where he can see it, and being pumped back and hooked to this thing the size of a shopping cart. It's amazing to expect that kind of behavior out of a kid, to be able to tolerate something like that."
In June of last year, Charlie finally received some super news: his long-awaited heart transplant. "The second that Dr. Stewart told us that the heart worked and it's beating, that was just awesome to hear," says Sarah.
Now home with his 4 older brothers, it's business as usual for this caped crusader. "He's on the lookout for bad buys, and he'll let me know, or he'll give me a shield or something and say ‘this is to protect you, you know, from the bad guys, because I have to go to work.’ So he definitely takes care of us,” says Sarah.
In true super hero fashion, Charlie will accept Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital's annual Courage Award for being courageous and inspiring others.