An Irish American family will offer a special thank you to the New York medical team who saved their son Jack Foley’s life when they sit down for a very special Thanksgiving dinner.
The little two-year-old redhead is back home in time for Thanksgiving after three major operations at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian.
Born with just half a heart, the New York Daily News reports that Jack will celebrate with his family in Long Island just weeks after his third reconstructive heart surgery.
Mum Lauren Foley told the paper: “When our family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner and says grace and what we are thankful for, I am sure there will not be one dry eye at the table.
“It’s just amazing that he has come through these three surgeries better than anyone expected and he has a good chance at a long, happy life. It’s all any parent wants to hear for a child.”
A special-education teacher in Far Rockaway, Lauren added: “We have gone through so much as a family with losing my firefighter brother Michael on Sept. 11, and my sister Kerri’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
“And then Jack’s diagnosis - there was so much sadness. But this year, to see all three surgeries behind us, you can’t help but be beyond grateful.”
Nick-named Super Jack by hospital staff, Jack has undergone three major surgeries by Dr. Emile Bacha, New York-Presbyterian’s chief of congenital and pediatric cardiac surgery.
The report says that when his mother was five months pregnant Jack was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare and complex heart defect in which the left side of the heart does not develop.
Previously a fatal condition, Jack has bounced back from each of his three operations, the first when he was just four days old and the second just four months later.
The paper adds that even his surgeon has been surprised by the child’s spunk and spirit.
Bacha said: “To hear that Jack is dancing at home after this major and massive surgical undertaking and is running around as if nothing has happened a few weeks later, that feeling for a surgeon is beyond words.”
Jack may need a heart transplant in the future but for now his family are just grateful he is bouncing around their living room and looking forward to Christmas.
Dad Rob, a Northport, L.I., firefighter, said: “I look forward to getting to some normalcy, without a big surgery looming over us. Not as many doctor visits.
“I am looking forward to just letting him be more of a kid than before.”
His mom, 34, also recalled the advice of some doctors to terminate the pregnancy once a routine ultrasound of her fetus revealed Jack’s problem.
The paper says only about 960 infants are born each year with the syndrome, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She added: “He has proven so much and proven so many doctors wrong … doctors telling me that he is not going to have a good quality of life even if he does survive. We never thought we would get to this point.
“There are no right words to describe how thankful we are to the hospital, to Dr. Bacha and to Jack’s cardiologist.”
Irish emigration songs that will stir your heart (VIDEOS)