Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Grateful dad reports Jacob doing well

Baby Jacob, who suffers a myriad of medical problems, with parents Christina Wachs and Matt Gardner at their North Cowchan home.

Text By Mike Damour - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial

Published: March 17, 2010 10:00 AM
Updated: March 17, 2010 10:12 AM

With just one more major surgery to go, the prognosis for baby Jacob Gardner is a good one, his relieved dad told the News Leader Pictorial.

“We just got back from Vancouver Friday night and Jacob is doing great, he’s recovered really well,” said Matt Gardner.

“The patch on his heart took and that’s a really good thing because he doesn’t have a heart murmur any more,” he said.

“He doesn’t have very much of a scar — I’ve seen cat scratches that look worse.”

A small scar is a great thing, especially when one realizes it was a four-month-old baby who had his chest cracked open so doctors could repair some congenital damage.

There was a bit of a scare when one of Jacob’s lungs collapsed when doctors removed a chest tube, but the problem was fixed and Jacob again recovered.

“I’m looking at him right now, sitting in his swing,” said his relieved dad.

But young Jacob has undergone much during his short time on the planet.

The baby suffers from a rare condition called VACTERL Association, a congenital condition that includes many birth defects.

Every child with the condition can be truly unique, with defects being different from any other child.

Each letter in VACTERL stands for a part of a baby that can have defects: vertebrae, anus, cardio, trachea, esophagus, renal, and limb. To have the association patients need to have at least three of the seven letters and young Jacob has four.

He was born without an anus, a condition that required an emergency colostomy when he just was one day old.

He also had two holes in his heart, which were both recently, successfully repaired as noted earlier.

Still, Jacob has only one kidney and an extra, functional thumb.

Cowichan residents stepped up to help the family, including mom Christina Wachs, through a fundraiser held at the Eagles Hall last month, money that helped the Gardners purchase a reliable vehicle to get them to and from doctor’s appointments.

The heart surgery was the riskiest of his scheduled surgeries and he got through it with flying colours.

With just one more relatively major one to go — a procedure that will allow Jacob to get rid of his colonoscopy bag — he should be in the clear.

"In a little while he should just be a normal little boy,” said Gardner.