Keziah is Lyndonna’s youngest child, born in October of 2014. Two days after Keziah was born, she was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which meant that the left side of her heart was not pumping blood as needed. Due to this condition, Keziah was flown to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton from her home in Calgary and underwent her first open-heart surgery at only two weeks old. Over the next four years, Keziah would undergo two more corrective open-heart surgeries. In July of 2019, Keziah began to complain that her chest hurt. Lyndonna immediately took her daughter to the nearby hospital in Calgary. The doctor did an echocardiogram and found that her heart was functioning at only 10%. She was flown via medical transport back to the Stollery Children’s Hospital for medical care the following night. The team determined that she would need to be listed for a heart transplant.
Keziah was transferred back to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, where she was to wait as an inpatient. This made things easier for Lyndonna to care for Keziah and her other two children at home, who were five and seven years old. Lyndonna balanced caring for Keziah and her siblings for all of August with the support of her mother, sister, and brother.
On September 11, Keziah was called for transplant and was quickly transferred from Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary back to the Stollery Children’s in Edmonton. Keziah underwent her life-saving heart transplant on September 12. Lyndonna remembers her and Keziah’s exact feelings when they got the call, “When I received the call from the transplant team in Edmonton, I felt joy and happiness because I watched her health decline so quickly, but then I felt sadness for the selfless family that was giving my child the greatest gift we could have ever hoped for. I cried both tears of joy and sadness. Keziah felt happy and overwhelmed because the transport team came right away to prepare her for transportation to Edmonton.”
Keziah was in surgery for over ten hours. “I was scared. This was a major surgery. A member of the transplant team came and informed us that she was bleeding a lot but that they were trying to control it. I felt scared, overwhelmed, and anxious. I felt like there was a weight on my chest. My greatest joy was when the surgeon came out and said the transplant went well, her new heart looks great!” says Lyndonna.
Post-transplant, Keziah was in and out of the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit due to complications post-surgery. Keziah had difficulties sleeping and Lyndonna was by her bedside constantly. Keziah also developed an infection that needed more medical care. Lyndonna remembers how much the transplant affected her whole family, “I wanted to be there for Keziah, but my mind was also on my other children in Calgary. It was hard to be in different cities, I felt like I was abandoning my other children. I was very grateful for my family who was caring for them while I was with Keziah.”
Keziah’s siblings were worried and would ask Lyndonna how she was doing and if she was going to be okay. They desperately wanted to see her with their own eyes and wanted reassurance. It was a great moment for the whole family when relatives were able to bring them to Edmonton for a visit.
While Keziah and Lyndonna were at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, their social worker told them about the David Foster Foundation. The Foundation provided support to Lyndonna with the costs of accommodation, food, gas, parking, and taxis. “Without the Foundation I do not know where my family and I would be. The Foundation took the financial burden off our family and allowed me to focus 100% on my daughter. I am grateful I was able to focus on what really mattered.”
The family was able to return home in December, “It felt awesome to return to Calgary in December. It was so nice to be home and to have all my children under one roof again.” says Lyndonna.
As Keziah recovered from her heart transplant, Lyndonna recalls the entire transplant process as an emotional and mental roller coaster. Some days were good, and some days were bad.
Keziah is doing much better one-year post-transplant, in addition to growing a lot, she is continuing to grow and develop as a toddler should.
Keziah will need to take anti-rejection medication twice a day for the rest of her life. Much like all transplant recipients, these medications do mean that transplant recipients are immunocompromised. As part of Keziah’s post-transplant care, she is required to have lab work done every month and attend the transplant clinic every three months.
Photo Credit and thanks to: Jodi O Photography
Read the David Foster Foundation spring newsletter featuring Keziah: