Meet the Cardiac Kids

Matt's Story

 Written by his Family

Sixteen years ago, only hours after birth, our son Matthew, was flown to Toronto Sick Kids hospital with a life threatening heart defect. As we watched our first born leave, we realized we never got to hold or hug him, just a small kiss between all the wires and tubes, a Polaroid the Ambulance attendants gave us, and another inquiry asking if we want Matthew baptized.

Four hours later, at home, shell-shocked, and uncertain on the next series of events, we received a call from PICU to state that Matthew underwent an emergency procedure and is now stable. We should come down the next day and plan to spend a few weeks in Toronto - as Matthew will need to have heart surgery.

The next day, we were shown to Matthew's room, shared with three other very sick babies. There, the nurse (Ali) said, "We take it hour by hour here, not day by day. You have a very sick son."

Six days later, Matthew underwent a very successful heart surgery. Days later we finally got to hold our baby boy for the first time. A few weeks later we were home. We still go to Toronto on a regular basis for check-ups for his heart and for his immune system (he has an unknown immune system deficiency where his "killer" cells are quite low and they are concerned he will not have enough to fight off infections/diseases).

One day, while at the cardiology clinic, our doctors (Dr.Aditia/Dr.Redington) informed us Matthew has another heart defect that will need repairing, or risk suffering a heart attack. A heart attack? You're kidding right? He is not even three years old yet? Nevertheless, just after his 3rd birthday, Matthew underwent a very difficult eight hour surgery to help protect a defected coronary artery. Dr. Redington said Sick Kids get a lot of rare cases and Matthew's case is even rare for them.

As most parents of heart patients know, the possibility of their child leading a "normal" active life is always in question. However, Matthew is not your ordinary child - he has been living a normal, active life! In fact, he was captain of his Rep hockey team, he was the starting wide-receiver on his school's football team, he played on the school's badminton team, and he will be trying out for the school's soccer team this year. He has played ball-hockey, basketball, competitive soccer, volleyball, and baseball throughout his life! Nobody would ever think Matthew has a heart condition - he never slows down. On top of his sports activities, he has volunteered as a coach/camp councillor for over 600 hours. Matthew wants to go to University to double major in Kinesiology and French. It truly is a blessing and a miracle. Yes, there is still a good chance he may have to give up sports one day and he is likely to need surgery again in the next 10 years. As tough as these future situations will be for Matthew, he has been able to live a fairly normal life, planning a future, and enjoying every minute! We have had a son and brother to love and enjoy.

THANK YOU Sick Kids!

We would be remiss if we didn't mention the excellent care Matthew has had at Toronto 's Sick Kid's hospital over the last 16 years. We are truly blessed to have a world-renowned hospital only an hour away. Every nurse, every doctor, every technician, and every staff member are awesome - day in and day out. These are the best of the best! We are forever in their debt.

The current times are economically tough and people do not have as much money to donate to worthwhile causes. Sometimes the hardest part is seeing where your donated dollars go, how they are used, and to what end. Our family has been blessed to see this first hand. Research dollars literally saved Matthew's life, not once, but three times! If it were not for these precious dollars, the research may never have taken place, and Matthew would not be here. Matthew is a success story.

It is with Matthew's success that we also want to point out that your dollars are important to organizations like Cardiac Kids. Matthew has been able to attend various sporting events, get to meet some of his sport's heroes, and network with other kids that have similar conditions. There is nothing like seeing your child's face light up when attending one of these events. Cardiac Kids - like Sick Kids hospital - are the best of the best, too!

These are 16 years we will never forget ... and a lot more to come!

Mike, Karen, Nicole, and Matt

» Read more Stories about the Cardiac Kids

Recommended Reading

Congenital Heart Defects: Decision Making for Cardiac Surgery Volume 1 Common Defects

Congenital Heart Defects: Decision Making for Cardiac Surgery Volume 2 Less Common Defects

The Parent's Guide to Children's Congenital Heart Defects: What They Are, How to Treat Them, How to Cope with Them
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CHD Info
Congenital Heart Defects

Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect. Each year, about 1 out of every 100 babies born has a heart defect.

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Cardiac Kids is a volunteer group, established to raise funds for children suffering from congenital heart disease. » Read More

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Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital Heart Defects are the most common birth defect. Each year, about 1 out of every 100 babies born...
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