Luis Mercado

Age: 9, Student
SynerGraft Patient
CryoValve SG Heart Valve

This is Luis Angel Mercado, a nine-year-old boy from the Dominican Republic. Luis lives with his parents, two siblings, a grandparent, and three uncles. The house they live in belongs to his grandparents and it’s made out of zinc and concrete, containing one bathroom and two rooms. The house is maintained by his father and grandparents, with a joint income of $7,000. Luis is attending the 2nd grade and wants to be a doctor when he grows up.

With the help of the CardioStart International Organization, on Friday, April 15th Luis received a small 7mm homograft as a two cusp onlay patch to surgically correct Tetralogy of Fallot..

Luis successfully recovered and was subsequently discharged four days later with a very satisfactory improvement. The valve was sent as part of our CryoKids program to the Dominican Republic in November 2015.

Last week, CryoLife received a note from Mary, a woman from the Heart Care Dominicana Foundation, who works with Dr. Santos:

“My dear Dr. Marath and Kimberly (DiCono),

Luis Angel Mercado was operated on last Friday. Dr. Santos used one of the homografts on Luis. Thank you both for giving Luis Angel a new life.”

Our Director of Donor Services had the honor of sharing the news of this graft being part of the CryoKids program with the McGinley family during the keynote session at the AATB Annual meeting last fall. She said, “It was even more rewarding to get to share the news that the graft had been used with them. Jodie and Jesse McGinley (Eli’s parents) were obviously thrilled to hear the news but Walker (Eli’s twin brother) said it best when his parents told him the news. “Wow, how many times is my brother going to save a life? He’s a hero!” Jodie said they told him his name was Luis and the sweetest, most honest smile came across his face!”

See below the photos that were shared with us of the adorable Luis and his grateful family, and an additional photo Jodie sent our Director of Donor Services of Walker looking at Luis’ photo.

This is not the first time the McGinley family has been touched by the power of tissue donation. Eli became a donor on August 8th, 2009. The family later learned that his aortic valve was used in January of 2013 for a child in need. Follow their ongoing journey at

To read more about the incredible work done by CardioStart, please visit:


NOTE: This story reflects one person’s experience. Talk to your doctor about your situation and possible treatment options.