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Noah was two years old when we noticed that something was terribly wrong. We took him to the emergency room one night because he was unresponsive, limp, and starting to turn blue. We were sent home from the emergency room that night with a diagnosis of constipation and told to start him on Miralax.

The following night, the same symptoms appeared and we rushed back to the ER insistent that something was terribly wrong. This time it was much clearer to the medical staff that this was something much more than constipation. After hours of testing, it was determined that our son had cardiomyopathy and would need a heart transplant to survive.

We waited almost 7 months through a lot of ups and down, but Noah received his gift of life. One of the challenging aspects of having an organ transplant is being immunocompromised. While a heart transplant has given him another chance at life, along with it comes many challenges. One of those challenges is vaccine-preventable diseases.

Noah is immunocompromised as a necessary part of organ transplant. Because of his immunocompromised state, he cannot receive live vaccines, leaving him vulnerable to many infectious diseases. Measles or chickenpox would be devastating to him because his body would have a harder time fighting it and because he has limited immunity.

Choosing not to vaccinate does not just effect the unvaccinated person. It can affect children like Noah, who relies on everyone around him being vaccinated to keep him healthy.

Casey Townsend lives with her family in Louisiana. Noah is now nine years old and healthy.
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