For almost all of his young life, 16-year-old Brannden Fernandez has known he would need a heart transplant.
“You look at the outside of Brannden and he looks like a normal kid,” said his aunt, Trine Lane. “He’s not.”
At six months old, Fernandez was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, meaning his heart is too big for his body. Because of his condition, the Las Cruces teenager was never able to do physical activities, like bike, run and swim.
“I think that the most difficult thing is not knowing what’s going to happen to Brannden,” Lane said.
A month-and-a-half ago, Lane said her nephew suddenly found it difficult to breathe.
“He thought he was dying,” she said.
After doctors struggled to diagnose the teenager, he was rushed by medevac to doctors at Stanford Health Care in California. They ultimately found fluid in his lungs and diagnosed him with pulmonary hypertension.
Fernandez now has a right ventricular assist device to help his heart beat. Until his hypertension subsides, his aunt told ABC-7 he can’t get that transplant.
“I’m not in no way, shape or form praying for somebody to die so my nephew can live,” Lane said. “But I do pray that Brannden gets a heart.”
The teenager does not have either parent in his life, his aunt said. His father was shot to death at a Las Cruces car wash in 2015.
“He deserves such a chance at life,” she said. “He’s had such a hard life.”
Lane said she and her husband have sole custody. While Fernandez is insured through his uncle’s Tricare, the bills continue to add up. Lane estimates that she owes more than $50,000.
“I would hope that God would let me have so many more years with Brannden, because he needs to have kids,” she said.
To donate to his family, you can visit this GoFundMe link. On November 3rd, his aunt’s beauty salon will have a Botox and facial party to raise money for him from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Her salon is located at 737 South Campo Street.