Daryn Harkey, as a child shared the dreams of all young boys; he loved playing baseball and football and enjoyed spending time with cousins and friends. His only limits were the bounds of his gifted imagination. On a typical summer outing to an amusement park, Daryn, who had always been very active, had difficulty keeping up and had to rest often. Daryn's fatigue persisted and was accompanied by prolonged flu-like symptoms. Perplexed by their child's worsening condition, his parents took him to the hospital and at the age of fourteen, Daryn was diagnosed with cardiomiopathy, a disease that permanently weakens the heart muscle. The Harkey's were then informed that Daryn's only chance of survival was a heart transplant.
After weeks of waiting for the arrival of a donor heart, the family relocated to Palo Alto, California so that Daryn could receive expert attention from the staff at Stanford University Hospital. A move that would not have been possible had it not been for tremendous community support and tireless fund-raising efforts. Knowing that Daryn's recovery would ultimately be his battle alone, Daryn was given complete control over decisions concerning his care. Daryn faced the burden of his illness and accepted the challenge. At this time, in the spring of 1982, Daryn Harkey became one of the youngest, and the first African American child to receive a heart transplant.
Daryn's recovery proved to be difficult. Within the first week, he developed a massive infection, and had to have a second operation. After a slow recovery, the family returned to Los Angeles and prepared for Daryn's return to school in the fall. Trying to fight off frequent rejections, his kidneys failed and the rigors of high school academics were frequently interrupted by trips back to Stanford for checkups and procedures. On one visit, the Harkeys were given the grim news that Daryn would need another transplant.
While at home waiting for a new heart, Daryn made a miraculous recovery. It was at that time that Daryn came to believe what his grandfather had always said, "Never discount the power of prayer." Knowing how precious and valuable life was, despite the circumstances or duration, Daryn sought to establish meaningful connections with those around him. His laughter and good nature transcended his illness and his love made a permanent impression on the hearts of all who had the pleasure to know him.
It is with this spirit that the Daryn Harkey Wellness Foundation was founded. In honoring Daryn's brief but tremendous life, we seek its greater purpose. His beauty became our blessing on the day he died. How we loved him then, how we love him still.