Lehi toddler develops rare and sudden heart condition in Hawaii, neighbors rally support

Jul 5, 2024, 7:17 PM | Updated: 7:52 pm

LEHI — A dream vacation in Hawaii turned into a nightmare for a Lehi family whose toddler is now battling for his life after developing a sudden and rare heart condition.

Danielle Hunt has made a series of posts on Instagram that her 3-year-old son Truman, who goes by Tru, fell sick and ultimately into heart failure while the family vacationed in Hawaii.

“We just need to keep continuing this prayer the fight’s not over for him and there’s still a really long, scary road ahead,” Hayley Henderson, a Hunt family friend and neighbor told KSL.

Truman, who goes by Tru, was described as a happy, healthy, rambunctious toddler with his family on a paradise vacation. Hunt said she started to notice him not feeling well.

“He wanted to be carried everywhere and often came to lay down on the towel and rest from playing in the water. Very different from his usual character. We started noticing signs like his distended belly and rapid breathing and ultimately followed our gut and took him into the ER. It was there in the ER that he rapidly declined and went into heart failure. His heart was functioning at 20% by the time we got him there,” Danielle Hunt wrote on Instagram.

That’s when she says her gut kicked in and they got him to the ER.

“He was perfectly healthy when he left. My kids were running around the backyard. They were all playing the day, I think, before they left,” Henderson said.

‘Acute Myocarditis’

Danielle Hunt wrote Tru was later diagnosed with acute myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Danielle Hunt said that it was triggered by a cold-like virus.

“But the actual cause/virus is still under investigation,” she said.

The Hunt’s neighbors and friends say Danielle Hunt is an ICU nurse herself.

“I think her being (an ICU nurse), having those skills, and noticing things that are slightly off but could be something that could be really wrong played a huge role in getting him to the hospital probably within hours of time,” Henderson said.

But Tru’s battle didn’t end there. Danielle Hunt wrote that the hospital in Hawaii didn’t have a pediatric cardiac surgeon to care for him. So, they worked to get him stable enough to take a medical flight back to Primary Children’s Hospital.

“The pilots of that life flight were earthly angels using their wings to get us home,” Danielle Hunt wrote. “I will be forever grateful to them as well as the flight nurses who constantly watched over him during that flight.”

They arrived in Utah late Wednesday night.

In an Instagram update Friday, Danielle Hunt seemed to strike a more hopeful tone.

“Lots of scary terms like severe heart failure and heart transplant being thrown out there,” she wrote. “But I feel like I have finally stepped off the rollercoaster of constantly being in fear he might code any minute to getting on a different ride — the ‘learning to be a mom with a child who has a failing heart’ ride.”

She continued, “and as odd as it sounds, I’m happy to get on that ride if it means leaving the other rollercoaster behind.”

Tru’s Tribe

Her friends have plastered their Lehi home with hearts of messages of love and support for Tru.

“Stay strong Tru,” and “You’re amazing,” are just some of the handwritten notes.

Friends hope that the prayers, and messages of support from a group they’re calling “Tru’s Tribe” will help buoy the family.

“And it’s just this tribe, it’s to kind of come together to say, we are here for you. We will do anything for you guys,” Henderson said.

Another neighbor and friend, Crystal Nash echoed that sentiment.

“At least they’re here now with their family. But having that happen, away from family and good hospitals where you need to be at, I can’t even imagine what they were feeling at that moment,” she said.

“I think just seeing all the little kids rather gather around, and just write their feelings and how much they care about Tru, and how much we love the Hunt family — has been everything.”

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Lehi toddler develops rare and sudden heart condition in Hawaii, neighbors rally support