ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Family members and caregivers are mourning a brave 7-year-old boy who passed away Wednesday night after a lifelong battle with heart problems.
Cameron Ulrich was on the mend - he was recovering from a heart transplant he received just two months ago and was getting stronger. But Friday, his doctors are searching for answers.
The 7-year-old passed away unexpectedly Wednesday night at Saint Marys Hospital, and there's no clear reason why.
Cameron's parents, Rob and Kari, have released a statement, "Quite unexpectedly, he just stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating, and despite immediate efforts to resuscitate him, he passed away."
A CaringBridge website updated by Cameron's parents relates the highs and lows of his journey, and recently, it had a positive tone.
After months in the Intensive Care Unit, Cameron had recently been moved into rehab, and the family was hoping to return home before school started in the fall.
Little Cameron was born with a complex and rare heart defect and at 12 days old, he had a pacemaker implanted to regulate his heartbeat.
But about a year ago, Cameron's heart showed bigger signs of trouble and in October, he was placed on a transplant list.
We first brought you Cameron's story in May after he received that heart transplant and was beating the odds. He had set a world record for the longest time survived on an ECMO machine, which had kept his heart and lungs pumping as he awaited his new heart.
"It's a heart/lung machine. It essentially was keeping him alive for those 200 days," said Rob and Kari Ulrich in a May interview. The way they were able to manage his care and take care of him in that situation is unbelievable. There was no manual, we were writing the book because nobody had been on that long."
Through his recovery, he had become a familiar face at Saint Marys Hospital and his unexpected passing has deeply affected the staff who cared for and got to know him over the last year.
Dr. Jonathan Johnson is a pediatric cardiologist who worked closely with Cameron and his family. He released a statement to KTTC saying, "On behalf of the physicians and staff who have cared for Cameron over the past year, we express our condolences to the Ulrich family.
There may never be a clear answer on what caused what appeared to be a healthy future to end so abruptly, but we are reminded by a strong little boy with a positive spirit, just how fragile life can be.
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