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'Courageous like Clay': 1-year-old Louisville child home after heart transplant

Clay Goodwin had a heart transplant at Norton Children's Hospital last month and came home just this week.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A little boy is home with his family after spending most of his life in and out of hospitals.

One-year-old Clay Goodwin had a heart transplant at Norton Children's Hospital last month and came home this week.

His loving parents, Hannah and Brandon Goodwin, are happy to have their little fighter back.

Baby Clay is bubbly and energetic, which is something most people might not expect in such a short time.

"Every heart surgery that he's had, he's had complications. As far as this transplant, it went perfect,” Hannah said. “He did great."

The Goodwins have been waiting on this moment since November 2020, when their newborn boy was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit after being born with four heart defects.

It was an experience they hadn't had with their other three children.

"My other children I got to hold and love on and all those things, before they took them and cleaned them up and brought them right back,” Hannah said.

But, that didn't happen. She said Clay had his first open surgery at two days old.

The Goodwins became quasi medical doctors over time, developing a deep knowledge of what was going on with their son.

"For us anyway, having the knowledge was more comforting than not knowing what was going on,” Brandon said.

Baby Clay was coming home for short periods, only to go back to the hospital.

The pair remember having to tell their other young sons why Clay was getting so much attention.

"Our boys play baseball, and the way we explained it was, ‘whenever you have a baseball game, we all come and watch you and support you and we're there for you,’” Hannah recalled. “’Right now, this is Clay's baseball game.’"

It’s a game he didn't plan on losing. The young fighter spent his first birthday in the hospital and even found the will to stand in the hospital.

"Our slogan for him is 'Courageous like Clay,'" Hannah said.

"In his short life, he's probably gone through more than any of us will ever go through in a lifetime,” Brandon said.

Clay has spent three quarters of his life in and out of hospitals. Now, he’s free to enjoy his own home, and that freedom came, coincidentally enough, on Independence Day.

"We got the call that we had a heart on July 4. So that night, before we took him to surgery, we just let him look at the fireworks and we said, ‘this is for you Clay. This is all for you. This is your independence from heart failure,’” Hannah said.

And just like that, after spending the past 283 days in and out of Norton Children's Hospital, they left.

The Goodwins can't thank the staff or the people in their lives enough.

"A lot of those doctors and nurses became family to us,” Hannah said. “They're some of my best friends now."

"They spent the extra time needed with him and the challenges he's given them. We understand one thing and he throws something new at us,” Brandon said.

The Goodwins say they plan on celebrating Baby Clay's 2nd birthday at home with lots of family and friends.

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