My name is Laura Gaudet.  I was born on March 7, 2001.  My parents were very happy to have a baby girl to be sister to their nearly two year old boy.

Not long after leaving the hospital it became obvious that something was wrong with me.  I was sleeping more than I should and my weight was dropping.  I was three and half weeks old at the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax when my parents found out I had a rare tumor on my heart called a cardiac fibroma.

The doctors initially thought I could live with the tumor.  By the end of April my parents had to make the most difficult decision of their lives, whether to keep me comfortable till I passed away or to try for a heart transplant.  Words cannot describe the emotions and questions going through my parents minds.  They found out the transplant could not take place in Halifax and that we would need to go to SickKids Hospital in Toronto.  They didn’t know how long we would be there, six months maybe more.  My parents felt that because I fought this hard to make it that they had to give me a chance.

We arrived at SickKids on May 3, 2001.  Every test imaginable was performed on me to make sure that I would qualify for a heart transplant.  They took so much blood, that I actually needed a blood transfusion.  At first, the doctors felt I could live a little longer with my own heart but wanted us to stay in Toronto.  Unfortunately, after two weeks I started to go into congestive heart failure and had to be re-admitted.

My family almost lost me a few times before I received my new heart on June 21, 2001.  With a few ups and downs after my transplant and having to stay in Toronto for close to three months we went home at the end of September 2001.

We now travel to SickKids once a year for a week of appointments. I now have a little sister who is eight years old.  Most times we travel together as a family to my appointments.   I like having my family with me and they help take my mind off of my appointments.  The transplant team also comes to Halifax once a year for a follow up and I have regular checkups at the IWK hospital in Halifax.

Something exciting I have done is winning a bronze medal in the ball throw at the World Transplant Games in Australia in 2009.  This was a very exciting experience for our whole family.  It was nice to meet other kids who had also had a transplant like me.  We met a lot of people from around the world.  It was something that no one in my family will forget.

 

The David Foster Foundation’s support has helped my parents survive financially.

In the first years, after my transplant, we were making frequent trips to the local hospital. Although these trips have lessened, the cost for gas and meals quickly added up. Our biggest cost however, is that every year we need to go to Toronto for my checkups. It is cheaper to drive, and that way our whole family is able to go. Any gains that we were able to make financially would disappear with the cost of this trip. There were times that my parents didn’t know what to do and they felt like giving up. Thanks to the DFF for helping them with our trips to Toronto. We are forever thankful.

 

Laura