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Dilworth boy, 5, dies on Make-A-Wish trip

Daytyn Hart

DILWORTH - Daytyn Hart had every reason to sit by the sidelines.

But the 5-year-old born with multiple congenital birth defects dove into life, participating in several sports and eagerly trying new things.

"There were never limitations for Daytyn," said Bette Shipley, who worked with Daytyn at her Riding on Angels' Wings therapeutic horse riding program. "He never let that stand in his way."

The Dilworth boy died Friday at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando, Fla., while he and his parents were on a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World.

Angie and Desi Hart said their son, who had more than 55 surgeries and procedures in his lifetime, was fairly healthy when Make-A-Wish Foundation representatives approached the family about granting Daytyn a wish.

After Daytyn chose to go to Disney World, his parents discussed the trip with his doctors.

"Everyone agreed that he was 100 percent healthy and able to go," Desi said.

Daytyn enjoyed four days in Florida, swimming daily at a resort and visiting Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Cocoa Beach.

But on the fifth day while visiting SeaWorld, the usually vibrant Daytyn became lethargic, and his parents took him to the hospital.

The following morning, Daytyn died after complaining of pain, leaving his parents with questions about what caused his death.

"He got his Make-A-Wish. After the beach, he was just satisfied, I guess," Desi said.

Lifelong challenges

Daytyn, born Aug. 1, 2005, in Fargo, spent the first seven months of his life in a hospital. His parents chose the unique spelling of his name to fit their unique boy.

He was born with a long list of birth defects, including cardiac problems that required three heart surgeries, a tethered spinal cord and a leg that only had one bone and was amputated.

Daytyn also had problems with his kidneys, esophagus and trachea. Up until his death, Daytyn had to use a colostomy bag and spent 14 hours every night connected to feeding tubes.

But those challenges never affected Daytyn's outlook, his parents said.

"He was happy. He never, ever complained about anything," Angie said.

"He came out of surgery smiling sometimes," Desi said.

Daytyn had knee surgery about 14 months ago and later got a prosthetic leg. He began walking on his own for the first time last fall.

"That was amazing for him because he never saw the world from above; he always saw it from below," Angie said.

'Smile a mile wide'

Daytyn loved to swim, played baseball with the Fargo-Moorhead Challengers, rode horses at Riding on Angels' Wings and participated in activities at TNT Fitness.

Nate Hendrickson, special needs director at TNT Fitness, said Daytyn was always glowing with energy and was eager to try new things.

"For how much that little man went through, he was a resilient little kid," Hendrickson said.

Shipley, founder of the therapeutic horse riding program, said Daytyn was outgoing with "a smile a mile wide."

"He had so much charm," Shipley said. "He was so charismatic."

Daytyn was looking forward to having a sister, who is expected in July. He helped pick out the name - Addysyn with two y's, just like Daytyn.

Angie and Desi are now comforted knowing how many people Daytyn touched and how much joy he brought them.

"He would always say to me, 'I love you, Mom. You're my love, my life, my everything,' " Angie said. "I keep saying that out loud over and over."