Mar 3, 2010 5:12 AM by Jeannette Hynes

Organ donation helps Colorado boy live, twice

JD Ross picks through photos with his son Garrett and daughter, Jessi, at their home in Peyton.  The photos show Garrett in a baseball uniform or on a horse.  But many photos show Garrett hooked to tubes, IVs, and other machines that are keeping him alive.

Before Garrett was born, doctors discovered the left side of his heart hadn't developed.  A transplant was his only hope for survival, and he would need that heart immediately.  Against the odds, Garrett waited seven and half months for that heart.

His parents never left his side.

"Whatever time he had on earth, we wanted to know he was loved," says JD Ross.

That transplant was a success, but eight years later, he would need another heart transplant.

This time, that heart came from a 15-year old boy named Darren Jansen.  Garrett played baseball three months after surgery.

"I feel like I can do things I want to do now," says Garrett Ross.

Garrett says he enjoys baseball, football, basketball, and rodeo.  His family keeps an eye on his immune system, but otherwise, he is able physically to do what boys do.

What the Ross family does now is to try to tell others about the success of organ donation. 

"If there's any piece that can help another person somewhere, give what you can," says JD Ross.

The Ross family is close with the Jansen family, exchanging phone calls, emails, and gifts over the past two years. 

Garrett wears a prayer box around his neck, given to him recently by the Jansens.

"They put a prayer in that said they hoped Darren's heart would last me a whole life," says Garrett Ross. "I think it's working.  I've never taken it off at all."

These life-giving successes haven't come without many hurdles along the way.

"The medical bills, they just come rolling in.  We got another $5,300 worth of bills that came last week," says JD. "If our biggest concern is that we don't have any money, then we are pretty blessed."

The Ross family encourages others to become organ donors.  The simplest way is to mark it on your driver's license, and tell your family about your wishes.  For more information on organ donation, head to



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