Bakersfield’s Little Iron Man


Dezmen Licea was born in 2017 with a heart defect so rare only one in 20,000 babies ever have it. He was supposed to die. Today, a year and a half later, Dezi isn’t just alive – he’s helping raise money for medical equipment that will help save other children just like him.

It’s been more than a year since we first introduced you to Dezmen Licea and his family. In that time, this baby has overcome the kind of adversity many people don’t experience in a lifetime. 

From the moment Dezi was born, something was wrong. He had a rare congenital heart defect. At a few hours old, he was being rushed into emergency open-heart surgery. His heart wasn’t working on its own.

“10 hours later we get the news, saying your son is on life support,” Luis Licea, Dezmen’s father, remembers the day his son was born vividly.

Five days after his major surgery, doctors advised Dezi’s parents – Luis and Alicia – to remove Dezi from life support. They didn’t. 

Dezi’s chest was open and he remained on life support for 6 and a half weeks. After 45 days, doctors told Luis and Alicia it was time. So Luis had a heart-to-heart with his son. 

“I told him, ‘This is your dad. I fought as much as I could for you. If there’s anything you can do, this is the time to do it.’ And as soon as I walked away, I started talking to God,” Luis said. 

“The doctor comes up and says, ‘He’s off [life support] and he’s still here. I’ll see you in half an hour.’ Half an hour goes by. Two hours. He kept going, he kept checking. He said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep talking to who you’re talking to.’ And I’m talking to God,” Luis said. 

Fast forward more than a year and every single thing about Dezmen Licea is a miracle. 

“He’s still a high-risk baby but we enjoy every day, every moment we have with him,” his father says. 

Dezi’s story caught a lot of attention. The Children’s Miracle Network noticed the little iron man. Out of 28,000 children, Dezi was chosen to be a 2018 Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador. As an ambassador, Dezi is helping to raise money to buy the same kinds of medical equipment that saved his own life. So that other babies just like Dezi, can become miracles too. 

If you’d like to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network, visit Dezi’s unique donation page here. All pledges stay local. 

Against all odds, Dezi will be 1-and-a-half years old the day after Christmas. 

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