Matt's Story

Sixteen years ago, only hours after birth, our son Matthew, was flown to Toronto Sick Kids hospital (from Kitchener ) 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 Ali (a nurse from the 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, Ali said to us,"We take it hour by hour here, not day by day. You have a very sick child." Six days later, Matthew underwent a very successful heart surgery and the next 48 hours were critical. Matthew passed these hours with flying colours and, days later, we finally got to hold our baby boy. Three weeks later we were home. We still needed to go to Toronto on a regular basis for check-ups, not only for his heart, but also for his immune system (he also 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. Again, Matthew came through with flying colours - everyone was pleased with his progress, and quick recovery. 

As most parents of heart patients know, the possibility of their child leading a "normal" active life is fairly minimal. However, Matthew is not your ordinary child. He has been living a very active life. In fact, he is currently the captain of his Rep hockey team, he was the starting wide-receiver on his school's football team, he plays on the school's badminton team, and he will be trying out for the school's soccer team soon. He has also played ball-hockey, basketball, soccer, 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 also volunteered as a coach/camp councillor for over 600 hours, and gets good marks in school (with a goal of getting a degree in Kinesiology). 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. But as tough as these future situations will be for Matthew, he has been able to live a fairly normal life - and we have had a son, and brother to love and enjoy. 

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 have been 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

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Gabrielle's Ride will give all members of the community, from elite cyclists to families and children, the opportunity to ride in support of the thousands of children in Canada who live with the affects of congenital heart disease and pediatric stroke.


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Gabrielle’s Ride
5386 Linbrook Rd
Burlington, ON L7L 3T9

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