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KMBC 9: Two boys form special bond through heart transplant journey at Children's Mercy

Heart transplant friends

By Emily Holwick

A doctor’s visit at Children’s Mercy’s heart clinic may look like a routine checkup, but the past seven months have been anything but routine for the Steele family.

“The journey itself was one that has been really miraculous in a lot of ways,” said Jonathan Steele.


He and his wife Lisa, who live in Olathe, found out their 5-year-old son Jake needed a heart transplant last November. He was hospitalized at Children's Mercy while he waited for a donor.

As they faced the unknown, another family was on a similar journey. Little A.J. Winkler was in a room nearby, also in need of a new heart.

“Oh, he's a strong little thing,” his mom, Trista Yates, said as she held her almost-1-year-old in her lap.

A.J. and Jake became fast friends, visiting each other and playing together as the weeks and months went by.

In early June, both boys finally got the life-saving call. They had their heart transplant surgeries just four days apart. After finally being able to go home, a post-surgery checkup also became a reunion for the boys and their families.


See the full story via KMBC 9

Ward Family Heart Center at Children's Mercy

Heart Transplant Program at Children's Mercy