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Operation #SageStrong: Community rallying around Keystone Heights teen in need of heart transplant

A Keystone Heights teenager is fighting to get a new heart as soon as possible, and his community is rallying behind him and his family.
A Keystone Heights teenager is fighting to get a new heart as soon as possible, and his community is rallying behind him and his family.

A Keystone Heights teenager is fighting to get a new heart as soon as possible.

His community is rallying behind him and his family.

Sage Pridemore is 14 years old. He loves to fish, play baseball, and hang out with his niece and nephew.

But Sage needs a heart transplant.

A recent setback makes the need for a new heart and the timing for one that much more important.

“He is the strongest kid I know,” said Sage’s mother, Candy Pridemore.

Sage was born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means he has half of a heart.

“He’s been in pediatric cardiac intensive care [at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville] for the last week,” his mother said.

That is because Sage has been having surgeries since he was 3 years old to remove bronchial casts. They are building up and filling his airways, making it hard to breathe and damaging his lungs.

“We just keep pushing forward just hoping and praying that there are donors out there who make the decision to donate organs,” Sage’s mother said. “Hopefully because of their unselfishness, Sage can benefit in the heart will come soon.”

Sage got the call on June 21 that there was a heart available for him. He was scheduled for surgery the next day. But a fever right before the operation started forced doctors to change plans.

“When you have a heart transplant, [doctors] want you to have any antibodies to be able to fight off,” Sage’s mother said. “They don’t want rejection. Had he gotten that heart with that fever, it probably would’ve killed him.”

So the heart had to go to someone else. That was a crushing blow, but Sage’s mother said they remain hopeful.

“We know our turn is coming,” she said. “Sometimes the wait is hard.”

Community members make sure Sage knows they care. Family, friends and even strangers send him cards, gifts and encouraging videos.

“It lifts him up. lift us up,” Sage’s mother said. “It gives us strength to keep on going one more day just one day at a time.”

The Keystone Heights community is stepping up in a huge way.

There will be an “Operation #SageStrong” benefit event on July 31. It will be at Heritage Park in Melrose from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be food, games, and music. But all the money raised during this event will go to Sage and his family to support them as he continues waiting for a new heart.

A GoFundMe account has also been set up to help the Pridemore family.


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Weekend morning reporter and multi-media journalist.