Erin Van Achte (left) and Jan Kotyk (right) have returned home to Golden with their 13-week-old son Asher after he underwent surgery to repair two holes in his heart.

Asher Kotyk returns to Golden after successful heart surgery

It was a happy holiday homecoming last week for Asher Kotyk, who spent his first Christmas at home with his parents.

It was a happy holiday homecoming last week for Asher Kotyk, who spent his first Christmas at home with his parents, Jan Kotyk and Erin Van Achte. Best of all, the 13-week old is recuperating well from his Dec. 12 surgery.

“He’s doing fantastic [now],” said Erin.

“He has the energy to eat, he didn’t have that before, and now he’s awake a lot more because he was sleeping a lot more before the surgery,” Jan said.

Asher spent over a month in hospitals in both Calgary and Edmonton because of a congestive heart failure that was caused by two large holes in his heart.

After a successful surgery, Asher was released last week just in time for Christmas.

The problem was discovered on Nov. 15 when Jan and Erin brought Asher into the Golden hospital after some grape water got into his lungs and he started breathing abnormally. X-rays revealed that Asher had a more serious issue, although it wasn’t initially clear what the problem was.

Personnel were brought from Calgary to take Asher back there, which understandably worried Jan and Erin.

“I was really terrified because they were sending a pediatrician, two nurses and two paramedics from Calgary to get pick him up and bring him,” said Erin. “We were thinking, what’s going on, this is a lot, this is extreme, something must really be wrong.”

“Seeing five professionals in the field show up…we were going through all sorts of things in our head,” Jan said.

Through a difficult situation, the couple was very pleased with how hospital staff handled everything.

“We are so incredibly grateful to Dr. Kirk McCarroll and all the other awesome staff at Golden Hospital emergency for their loving care [on Nov. 15],” said Erin.

The holes in Asher’s heart were discovered after further tests in Calgary. He was eventually moved to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, where his surgery took place. Jan and Erin stayed in a hotel in Edmonton for a few nights before they were able to receive accommodation at Ronald McDonald House.

On a few occasions it appeared as though Asher might be released from hospital and be permitted to await his surgery at home, but that never happened, which would have left Jan with a difficult decision if it wasn’t for the support the family received from Golden. Jan, losing wages with every day spent in Calgary, thought he might have to leave Erin and Asher in Alberta in order to work.

“There was a point when they said, ‘okay you’re here until the surgery’, I thought I was going to have to go home,” Jan said.

Thankfully, the situation never came to that because of the generous support the family received from locals in Golden. Through various fundraisers, Goldenites were able to raise enough money to cover Jan’s loss of wages as well as their accommodation and travel costs. Both Jan and Erin are extremely grateful for that support.

“It’s overwhelming. I couldn’t believe all of the support that we had, and then coming home and just everybody smiling and waving at us and welcoming us home. It just felt really good to be home and to feel all of that love from everybody,” Erin said.

“It was unreal,” Jan said.

Asher will have a February follow up appointment at a cardiology clinic in Calgary and will have monthly checkups at the hospital here. His weight will also be monitored on a weekly basis.

For now, the family is just really happy to be back home for the holidays.

“It’s awesome to be home and to sleep on our own beds and have our dog back,” Erin said.