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With his big, soulful eyes
and handsome smile, it's no surprise
baby Karter Thistlethwaite has the nurses of B.C. Children's Hospital
wrapped around his tiny little finger.
"He's a big flirt," said
mom Brandee Brown with a laugh. "He's quite the little ham. He knows how
to work the people around here, that's for sure."
belly laughs, it's hard to believe the eight-month-old has spent every
moment of his life just fighting to survive. Karter's heart, although
capable of giving lots of love to all those around him, is sick.
in the womb, he developed heart block, a problem with the heart's
electrical system. The disease causes a slowing of the signal to the
lower chambers that cause the heart muscle to contract.
given the news after her 20-week ultrasound, when a gut feeling plagued
her that something wasn't right. The next day, doctors gave her and
husband Erik Thistlethwaite the devastating diagnosis.
having their now four-year-old daughter Makiya, Brown had two
miscarriages, the first of which happened just four days before
Christmas, and the couple were determined to save this baby's life.
Karter would need open-heart surgery soon after being born, doctors
recommended that the couple, who live in Kamloops, travel to B.C.
Children's Hospital in Vancouver for the delivery.
eight days after his birth, the fragile newborn had his first surgery to
place a pacemaker. After recovering, Karter was doing better and his
relieved parents took him home. But after tests at his six-month
checkup, their worst fears were realized: Karter was in heart failure.
"They were basically saying that he's lucky to be alive," said Brown as she fought back tears.
was quickly rushed into emergency surgery, where he received a
different pacemaker. The procedure seemed to work at first, but after a
few days in intensive care, Karter began to deteriorate again.
His only chance of survival, doctors said, would be a new heart.
"If this doesn't work, there's no other option for him," Brown whispered, wiping away a stray tear.
said her son is the only infant waiting for a heart in B.C. When a new
heart becomes available, Karter will likely undergo the procedure at
Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alta., the only referral
centre in Western Canada for pediatric heart transplants.
difficult to predict how long Karter will wait. In 2011, the median wait
time for patients seeking heart transplants was about a month, while in
2010, it was almost four months, according to B.C. Transplant.
the statistics paint a scary picture. According to the Canadian
Institute of Heath Information, two B.C. children in need of new hearts
either withdrew or died while on the waiting list in 2012. The possible
deaths are a painful reminder of the chronic shortage of available
organs for those in desperate need.
Although Brown desperately
wants to see Karter get a new heart, knowing that with it another family
will face the heart-wrenching loss of their child is too much to bear,
"It kills me to know what another family has to go through in order for us to keep him," she said.
the family anxiously wait, Brown said her husband, who works in
construction, is putting in extra hours to try to keep up with mortgage
payments on their Kamloops home.
Although friends have hosted fundraisers, Brown fears they may lose their house and won't have a place to take Karter home.
now, Brown said they are taking each day as it comes. Although every
moment is terrifying, Brown said her son's cheerfulness always humbles
"The days that I decide to break down, I just look him and
he's smiling and laughing, and it's like, what am I getting so upset
about?" said Brown. "I've learned so much from such a little person."If you would like to Donate to Karter and his family, please do so by clicking the "donate" button.
Donations are collected through paypal accounts for security reasons, or you can walk in to any TD Bank and donate to the following account number: 9149 600 6939
Ps. There is an extreme shortage on organ donors and blood donors. Do your part. Save someone and become a donor today! What's the risk!? You have blood in you to give, and organs to gift! Visit your nearest blood bank, and or click the links below to become an organ donor. You may just save someone's life... Would you think twice if it was you, a friend or a family member that needed it!? https://transplant.bc.ca/OnlineReg/bcts.asp
Take a read, click below for a few myths and facts... http://www.transplant.ca/pubinfo_orgtiss.htm
Find your donor site, click below :o) http://worldwidedonorlinks.blogspot.ca/ Karter's story in The Province Newspaper