To passengers on the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver that June day, a blond toddler running circles around the deck was cute and maybe a little too high-spirited. To his parents, Brad and Andrea van Rossum, the sight was magnificent.
Even before he was born, Reid’s mom and dad knew that he had a heart condition: pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum. It’s a congenital heart defect in which a valve fails to develop properly and obstructs the connection between the right and left ventricles of the heart. In order to survive, baby Reid would have to endure three surgeries – the first just weeks after birth.
Until recently, Reid could barely play with his big sister Alexa. He would run out of breath, need to rest or ask to be held. “I don’t think we realized how limited he was, physically, until after his third surgery,” says Andrea.
After his final surgery in the summer, Reid’s parents witnessed his burgeoning sense of independence and vitality. Reid was a new person. “Four days post-op, we were in the hospital playroom, and he had more energy than we had ever seen before,” says Brad. “Hearing his laughter and seeing him play was pure joy.”
Reid is one of over 2,500 kids from Vancouver Island treated at BC Children’s Hospital. He gets great care from Dr. Andrew Campbell and cardiology team at Children’s – and from Dr. Brian Sinclair who sees Reid at clinics in Victoria and Nanaimo.
Andrea gets emotional when she considers the support that her family has received, not only from Reid’s doctors and caregivers, but from donors across the province. “There are no words to say what donations mean. For us – it means we get Reid. And we get a place where we know he’ll be taken care of, and we get to be a family.”
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