Deven's Dash to the Transplant Games

Posted July 22, 2012 in News Category
shelton-deven-steve-s0zDeven, left, and Steve Shelton

At a Transplant Games of America sendoff for Team Transplant St. Louis members hosted by Mid-America Transplant Services on July 22, Steve Shelton shared a story from the last Transplant Games he and his wife attended with their son, Deven.

Deven is a six-year-old liver recipient. He’s four years removed from his transplant at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Doctors said he would never walk, talk, smile, or show emotion. They said Deven would never advance developmentally beyond that of a newborn.

Deven has a history of proving doctors wrong. “With Deven, we never say never,” his father, Steve said in the fall of 2011. “We never like to say Deven can’t. He just does it at his own pace.”

Visit the Team Transplant St. Louis web page for updates
and pictures from the 2012 Transplant Games of America.


He was born with ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC). It’s a condition in which the liver lacks an enzyme that breaks down protein and causes ammonia to build up in the blood to unsafe levels. These high levels of ammonia caused delays in his development. After more than a year on a special diet, he received a liver transplant as an 18-month-old.

devon-2He has since smiled, reached out to pet the family’s kitten, and stood and pushed in his doorway jumper. 

 “He did that for a week or two,” Steve said of the jumper. “Then he tried to get a little momentum and direct himself one way or another. That was the first time we saw anything where he would put his feet together for a purpose or move his legs for a reason.”

That leads to the 2010 Transplant Games. While he doesn’t have the support to walk freely, Deven has taken up to 40 steps independently. So on an August afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin, Deven lined up with his walker for the 50-meter dash with other recipients.

devon-3Deven Shelton crosses the finish line of the 50 meter dash at the 2010 Transplant Games.

Down the straight away, he plugged away at the finish line. About half way through the race, Steve looked up and noticed a crowd forming at the finish line. The group began cheering for Deven. It spread to the grandstands with the help of the public address announcer. The entire stadium was chanting Deven’s name as he crossed the finish line.

Steve said the next few days were spent meeting, greeting and hugging complete strangers, inspired by Deven. For the 2012 games, Deven is participating in the 50-meter dash and the softball throw again.

He might enter a swimming event too … just another chapter to his history of proving doctors wrong.


Back to All Stories

Comments (0)