Goldenites have once again rallied around Asher Kotyk and his family, but his parents, Erin Van Achte and Jan Kotyk, would like to stress that their 16 month-old is far from alone in his battle with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, approximately one out of every 100 babies are born with some form of heart defect. In Canada, nearly 100,000 adults had surgery to correct defects as children.
This week is CHD Awareness week and Asher’s parents are hoping their son’s health issues will help shed light on this often neglected disease.
“CHD means that babies are born with something, or multiple things, wrong with their heart and no one knows why,” Erin said in an e-mail. “It is a life-long battle for most. These heart warriors will require life-long specialized care.”
Through Asher’s various medical treatments, his parents have met countless other parents in similar situations.
“Some are waiting on new hearts, some are on their first, fifth, ninth or 11th open heart surgery and some have been in (hospital) for months with little to no progress waiting for their miracle and never giving up hope,” Erin said.
The holes in Asher’s heart were first discovered late in 2013 and now, at 16 months old, he has undergone three separate open heart surgeries, two of which occurred this January.
Asher’s latest surgeries have been in an effort to fix his pulmonary vein stenosis, a rare disease that causes the pulmonary veins to narrow.
His vein narrowed once again after the first operation, so it was decided by Asher’s parents and his medical team to operate again.
Through it all, the family remains immensely grateful for the support from the community, which has made donations to their cause through various fundraisers in order to account for Jan and Erin’s significant travel expenses and lost wages during Asher’s time in hospital.
“Our community truly is incredible,” Erin said. “Their hearts are so big and full of so much love. We feel so thankful to be part of a town that supports one another.”