There's been no shortage of adventures in the past two years for heart transplant recipient Carson Gigstad — his Boy Scouts troop is a big reason.
The 16-year-old Savage resident and Burnsville High School sophomore is working towards achieving Life Scout rank — the last stop on his way to the highest rank, Eagle Scout.
“He's here to live and experience, and that's the blessing of the heart transplant,” Gigstad’s scoutmaster, Jeff Love, said.
Troop 226 hiked to a mountaintop in New Mexico in the summer. Next summer, Gigstad plans to go on the next Scouting adventure, a sailing trip in the Florida Keys.
“Hopefully I catch a shark," he said.
In 2017, the teen suddenly became ill with headaches, stomachaches and loss of energy. Blood tests at the emergency room indicated something was seriously wrong, and Gigstad was airlifted to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
At Children’s, doctors determined Gigstad was in complete heart failure.
He was transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he became the youngest patient to have a pump put in his heart. Before even waking up from the procedure, a donor match had been found for a heart transplant.
Early the next day, Gigstad had a new heart.
After celebrating one year since his transplant, Carson Gigstad and his troop embarked on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. Gigstad, with some help, portaged a canoe. He said the group also learned blacksmithing, practiced black powder rifle shooting and made their way out of mines.
After celebrating his two-year transplant anniversary this summer, Gigstad spent 12 days hiking over 60 miles in Arizona.
“Two years ago, when he was laying in that bed, I couldn’t have imagined all he’s been able to do,” his mother, Christin Gigstad, said. “He’s a success story for many people living with transplants."