As Everyday Angels gears up for another school year by reconnecting with counselors and teachers, we are excited to share the story of Bronco Reece, a Mill Creek Middle School sixth-grade student whose personal health journey has proved to be a light for others.
Bronco was born in 2006 with four congenital heart defects, all too critical to endure surgeries. He was placed on the heart transplant list at 6 months old, removed from the list at age 3, and placed back on the list when he turned 6. His growth made his need more critical.
“On Feb. 4, 2015, Bronco was hospitalized again, and this time we knew we would leave the hospital one of two ways, either with a new heart or without our son,” said his mom, Joanna.
“This time in, our stay was so much more impactful. Watching other parents lose their children as they waited for their much-needed miracle was not something we were prepared for. We had one transplant fall through on Feb. 27, but, then, our miracle came. On April 26, doctors entered into our room to tell us that we had a heart and, on the 27th, Bronco received his new heart. We were and are so grateful each day for the sweetest gift another family gave to our son.”
After his transplant, Bronco was diagnosed with PTLD, Post-Transplant Proliferative Disease, a form of lymphoma that is a result from the anti-rejection medications he takes daily to maintain his new organ. He received chemo treatments from October 2015 to February 2016, and was declared in remission on Feb. 18, 2016.
Today, Bronco is happy to live finally as a normal child; to run, jump, swim and play. “He expresses to us his gratitude, and we feel he has a complete understanding of the blessing he received. Bronco is an extraordinary boy with an infectious love for others,” his mom said.
“During the three months spent at Egleston, we witnessed families who lost their children while waiting. Then, there are also those who lose their child in order to be another child’s miracle. There are no words to diminish the tragic heartache of those families. Our journey has opened our eyes to the many needs of pediatric transplant patients and families. It’s an exhausting, emotional process.
“God has given our family this amazing opportunity. How do you repay this life-saving miracle? So, we decided to form Bronco’s Benevolent Foundation. We feel that we can honor God by helping these families with the little things, while He handles the bigger ones. It gives us purpose and joy to encourage others who are now in those shoes,” Joanna said.
Bronco, Joanna and Scott often are found at the hospital helping, feeding and encouraging families who are waiting for their child’s transplant. They host benefit motorcycle rides, gather food and other donations for the families, and visit patients awaiting organ transplants, to encourage them just like their friends did for them.
“We want the world to know how important it is to be a donor, to allow our children to be donors. The statistics are astounding, but so many children die each day waiting for an organ. It is a gift that continues giving. It is our honor to help raise awareness and financial support for this cause. It is our goal to improve upon each child’s journey through this process,” Joanna said.
Everyday Angels is thankful for the Reece family. Their love for Bronco and understanding of their experience encouraged them to pay it forward. To learn more about Bronco’s Benevolent Foundation, go to www.Broncosheart.org.