Preschooler recovering rapidly from heart transplant
Text By Krista Siefken - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Published: January 21, 2010 5:00 PM
Joshua Balfour is coming home with a new heart.
The four-year-old Mill Bay boy received a heart transplant at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton during a 10-hour operation Jan. 15.
Exceeding all expectations in his recovery, young Joshua is expected to be discharged Monday — and he’s definitely ready to leave.
“Last night I asked him what he’d dream about,” mom Keely said on the phone from Edmonton. “He said his house; he wanted to come home. That’s where his head is at right now.”
As reported by the News Leader Pictorial in December, Joshua had already survived three heart attacks and an operation that left him with an artificial heart as a result of heart damage caused by Kawasaki disease when he was just an infant.
His family, including dad Mike and baby brother Dylan, had relocated to Edmonton while anxiously awaiting a compatible heart for transplant.
“We found out on Thursday (Jan. 14) that there was a heart and someone from the hospital was flying out to retrieve it, but there were weather issues so they held off until Friday,” said Keely.
By 3 p.m. Friday, Joshua was receiving his new heart — which had to match his blood type and size — and was out of the intensive-care unit by Monday.
“He would have been out on Sunday but there wasn’t a bed for him, and now he’s just got to build up a little strength and start eating again,” said Keely. “He’s doing really well— I think he’s breaking records.”
The family was also told it would be given a pass out of the hospital today — just one week after the transplant — before being discharged Monday.
The family is ready to get some normalcy back.
“(Joshua) has been miserable the past three days,” Keely admitted.
“I think he probably feels crappy because he’s been started on a bunch of anti-rejection drugs and steroids and we’ve been told that older people on similar drugs have complained about feeling not quite themselves for a couple weeks, so that’s what he’s going through.
“It’s hard to see him like that because he’s usually very chatty and smiling — he’s a happy kid — but today he’s cracking a few smiles. He really is a super strong guy.”
It’s been a surreal experience for the Balfours, who in a matter of weeks went from uncertainty and anxiety to overwhelming relief.
“We’re so happy and relieved, but still a bit cautious — it’s all happing really quickly and to go from as sick as he was seven weeks ago to think about going home on Monday, it’s a bit overwhelming.
“It’ll be so good for Joshua to go home because he’s losing spirit,” his mom said.
The relief is also bittersweet.
“We feel so gifted and incredibly lucky to have a heart come this quickly, and there are mixed emotions because other kids here have been waiting a really long time.
“It’s hard to be happy in front of someone who’s been waiting seven months or two and-a-half years — I really feel for those families.”
The family was quick to thank the doctors, nurses and other staff at the Stollery hospital, and said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of Cowichan community support that followed the Balfours when they went to Edmonton.
“Everybody’s just been so awesome,” said Keely. “It’s been overwhelming. We don’t even know how to express our gratitude and thanks for what people have done and the positive thoughts that have been coming our way.”
A trust account to help with family expenses while in Alberta, as well as a website and Facebook group to offer emotional support, have been created by a group of the Balfours’ friends and family members.
To learn more, visit www.joshbalfour.com.
Castle Care Daycare is hosting a fundraiser for the Balfour family on Jan. 31, between 4 and 7 p.m., at The Bay Pub in Cowichan Bay.
The event includes a silent auction, a bluegrass act and marimba band.
Cowichan Bay firefighter Ian Taylor meets Josh Balfour (far right) and Josh’s best friernd Tyler Bosence during a visit to Castle Care daycare.
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Joshua Balfour is coming home with a new heart
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