Long Island toddler born with half a heart defies odds, living life to the full
Two-year-old named after 9/11 hero uncle seems unstoppable as he approaches his third major surgery
Two-year-old Jack Michael Foley from Long Island, New York was born with half a heart and despite having undergone two major lifesaving operations the mischievous toddler lovers playing baseball with his day and winks at girls who pass by.
Foley was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), which resulted in the left side of his heart not developing. In fall this year he will undergo his third major surgery, which they hope will give him a normal life.
The child’s father, Rob, a 38-year-old firefighter, told the New York Daily News “The doctors have to brace you for the bad stuff, but I wouldn’t give him up for anything.
“We want to get the word out to help other parents who are going through this same journey. There is hope.”
Foley’s condition means the left side of his heart can’t supply his body with blood as the lower left chamber is too small.
Chief of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital at New York-Presbyterian Columbia, Dr Emile Bacha, has carried out two operations on Jack when he was just four days old and at four months.
Bacha is now preparing for Foley’s third. He said “Jack is doing outstanding. It bodes well for his future.”
The boy’s mother Lauren Kiefer-Foley (33) never expected her baby would have this problem when she found out she was pregnant in 2010. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 960 babies are born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome each year in the U.S.
Jack was named after his uncle, Michael Kiefer, who died in 9/11. His mother Lauren says “I believe with all my heart that my brother, Michael, is watching over Jack and giving him the amazing strength he has.”
She continued “I am moved to tears every day, and in complete awe when I look at my son laughing, swimming and playing like any other normal, healthy kid.
“I am just so grateful he is doing as well as he is. He is such a character.”
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