Aidan’s Story

Aidan's Story

My name is Aidan Meilleur-Wilson, and I am 3 years old. Some people have referred to me as “the Miracle Baby”, but Mommy and Daddy always seem to introduce me as “our little devil”. So I’ve heard I’m a real handful. And apparently it all began the day I was born. January 31st, 2002 started […]

Cheyanne’s Story

Cheyanne's Story

At age four, Cheyanne was the youngest patient in Alberta to receive a heart and lung transplant. As a child, Cheyanne appeared to be a perfectly healthy girl. When she began to experience extreme shortness of breath, she was admitted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. Cheyanne was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a rare […]

Isaac’s Story

Isaac's Story

Baby Isaac, cutest dude in the room, finally opens his eyes, fidgets and yawns, blissfully unaware he’s just made medical history. The vertical scar on his tiny chest is fading rapidly, along with the big worries of his parents, Calgarians Matt and Shandra Tymchuk, who just can’t stop smiling at their wobbly four-month old. In […]

Davita’s Story

It all started with a routine 6-month ultrasound. I was told the baby was in a funny position and the technician couldn’t see the whole heart. Five ultrasounds later I was exasperated with my “paranoid” obstetrician. I remember thinking, “How ridiculous, a fetus wouldn’t survive with half a heart.” I was joking with the technician […]

Dylan’s Story

Day 1 I drove to Tisdale Saskatchewan to be in time to see Dr. Shewchuk with Dylan so we could get the “O.K” for the trip to Edmonton. His chest sounded clear, so Dr. Shewchuk told Dylan to cross his fingers, arms, and legs that the operation would go well. Dylan did all three – […]

Sophie’s Story

Sophie's Story

Sophie’s journey began when she was diagnosed with blood cancer when she was two years old. Following chemotherapy, a Winnipeg cardiology team determined that her heart’s left side had been severely damaged (a condition known as chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy). For treatment, she was transferred to Stollery Children’s Hospital. Sophie was put on the waiting list […]

Kelso’s Story

Kelso Van de Polder' Story

Elizabeth Van de Polder was overjoyed and relieved when she finally got to hold her baby boy Kelso without any wires or tubes attached to his tiny body. “I had to be right beside his bed whenever I held him because he was hooked up to all these monitors,” she recalls. “But now I can […]

Avery’s Story

Caring for a child with a chronic heart condition is a unique, daunting task that few others can understand. "It was very scary at first; we were in complete crisis mode," Tracey said. "We had to relearn how to care for her." The Carpenters eventually turned to the Children's Heart Network (CHN), a BC-based non-profit organization that provides support and resources to families dealing with heart disease. In fact, speaking with another mom whose daughter had also undergone heart surgery was a lifeline for Tracey. "I found someone who understood what we were going through and what our new normal was like," she says. "Having a heart child is difficult to explain unless you've been there yourself. It's difficult for people to relate. You progress from crisis to coping to thriving. But you never know when a crisis will strike again. You live with the 'what if?' It's difficult for other families to understand." Founded in 1983 by two Victoria families, the Children’s Heart Network has over 600 members. Despite its tremendous growth over the last decade, the organization has not lost sight of its main goal: being there for people throughout their experiences with a heart condition. "We believe that there is no better support or resource than someone who has walked in your shoes," says CHN provincial coordinator Samantha Aitken. "It allows families to connect and support one another as we face challenges." Dr. Sanatani, division head and medical director for the Children’s Heart Centre at BC Children’s Hospital, recognizes the value the group provides. "The Children's Heart Network is an amazing group of families, and to truly understand its value and importance, you must take a step back and consider the incredible disruption and challenges that some of these families face,'' he notes. "Sometimes they come in not knowing their child has heart disease, and they leave with a lot of information, which is overwhelming. It's extremely beneficial to have a network of people who are going through it or have been through it who can offer support, guidance, and reassurance.” The CHN provides support through diagnosis and treatment, and continues to be there through the entire life journey. The group can help parents address common questions including ‘Is my child going to be able to do sports?' ‘Can they take part in school activities?’ ‘Are they going to be able to travel?’ Parents can also train to become a support person for families who have just received a heart-related diagnosis. Tracey has gone on to become a support person herself. "It's so rewarding to be on the other side of it, to help people when they're in that crisis mode," she says. "It's very reassuring to have someone to bounce ideas off of or talk to when you're worried."

Tracey Carpenter knew her daughter’s symptoms were more than just an allergy. For two years, she was told that Avery was allergic to dairy, but she insisted on further testing. That’s when doctors discovered Avery had a rare heart condition. “We were just numb,” Tracey recalls of that day in 2009. “Her heart was the […]

Muskaan’s Story

The Muskan family with Dr. Holger Buchholz

At 10 days old, Muskaan Grewal had been settling into her new home in Surrey, B.C., with her father, Harman, her mother Sukhjit, and her six-year-old sister, Karina. The initial health she had radiated at birth began to fade. Worried, Muskaan’s parents took her to the family doctor, who suggested they bring her to the […]

Ryan’s Story

Ryan Smethurst's Story

Six years ago today, I was juggling a newborn, a two-and-a-half-year-old, and a nearly five-year-old. Our newborn Ryan was born at 12:36 a.m. on May 5, 1999, at the Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, British Columbia. It was a short labour and delivery (about 35 minutes). We were overjoyed to be expanding our family, […]