Looking at seven-year-old Alexander’s smile, you would never know that he had a heart transplant less than six weeks ago. We caught up with Alexander Baars, his parents and his little brother in the Magic Room as they celebrated going home.
Alexander was born with a highly complex congenital heart defect. He had his first surgery at 13 days old, and has had several open heart surgeries and many trips to Edmonton with long stays away from home in Regina since. In August of 2015, Alexander developed a serious condition secondary to his heart defect, and the family began a conversation about a transplant. They were told the wait for a heart could be very long, but on January 4, 2016, the phone rang in the middle of the night: there was a heart for Alexander.
For the first time since Alexander’s last surgery in 2011, Ed and Erika arrived at RMHCNA; Alexander’s surgery was successful and he was discharged less than five weeks later to RMHCNA where he continued to heal with his family. Erika couldn’t believe the appetite and stamina that Alexander exhibited. Before his transplant, Alexander would tire and need rest after 15 or 20 minutes of play time. Now he could play for over an hour and keep up with his little brother!
Ed and Erika were surprised to see many new programs available to families at RMHCNA since their last stay. The biggest difference that they experienced was the increase in meals. When they stayed in 2011, there was usually a dinner or two per week. During this visit, thanks to our incredible Meals that Mend groups*, they could spend more time at the hospital with Alexander, knowing that they did not need to prepare dinner. Erika wanted our Meals that Mend groups to know that, “What you do really does mean a lot, even if you don’t see it. Sometimes a thank you gets forgotten in the stress of hospital days, tests and surgeries, but you are so appreciated.”
Without RMHCNA, their journey would have been far tougher from both a financial perspective as well as from an isolation perspective. Ed appreciated that there were other parents who he shared an immediate connection with because of their similar journeys. Erika said what a difference it made when Alexander was well enough that his little brother could join the family and be together. Cameron even lost his first tooth while staying at RMHCNA!
“Because of RMHCNA, I could be the rock that the kids needed, and Ed could be my rock,” says Erika.
The Baars family spent this Family Day weekend at home, celebrating the gift of Alexander’s new heart.
*Our Meals that Mend community partners provided RMHCNA families with 836 meals in 2015!