When a 14-week-old baby woke up from a five-day coma, the first person he recognized was his dad, and smiled at him in the most precious way in the whole wide world.
His mother, Emma Labuschagne said, “It’s a moment I will cherish with every inch of my heart.” She added, “To be really honest, it’s got to be the happiest moment of my life. He is a living miracle, and we have never felt prouder of him.”
The baby known as Michael, had suddenly stopped breathing on March 16. Emma and Stuart Labuschagne, said Michael had a cardiac arrest in their home, and paramedics shocked him with a defibrillator and injected him with adrenaline to stabilize his heartbeat.
Then he was put into a medically induced coma to protect his brain from more damage, as he had a rare condition like cardiac fibroma. The tumor can block blood flow to a child’s heart and the size of Michael’s tumor is 5 centimeters, or two inches, wide which is huge for a small baby.
Doctors said that his condition was so rare that no surgeon in the UK would be able to remove his tumor. They were given two options by the doctor, wait in line for a heart transplant or find a surgeon outside the country.
And that’s when they found out about Boston Children’s Hospital in the US, whose Cardiac Tumor Program boasts a 100% survival rate over the past 10 years. “We researched the hospital and specifically the cardiac surgeons, Dr. (Pedro) del Nido and Dr. (Tal) Geva,” Emma said. “They have a 100% success rate and an exceptional reputation. From this moment we knew that we had to try and make this journey.”
But the journey is not going to be cheap. The hospital gave them a quote of $147,000 for the surgery, apart from travel, lost workdays and recovery costs. The Labuschagnes say they want the best treatment for Michael, no matter the cost.
“When we received a response from Boston confirming that he would be a good candidate for surgery, it did not matter what the cost was,” said Emma. “We would pay any amount of money to save our child’s life.”
Emma started a GoFundMe account to raise funds for the surgery as soon as they heard back from the hospital. She said they were overwhelmed with the public response they received. “We have had well-wishers and donations from all over the world!” she said. “We are unbelievably thankful!”
She said that Michael has an internal defibrillator and pacemaker and must take medication four times a day which causes side effects like stomachaches, diarrhea and skin sensitivity which prevent him from going out in the sun.
The family hope to travel to the states in April, and for the moment they are just playing with baby Michael and adjusting their lives around his medical needs.
“Looking at him, he is like any other baby,” Emma said. “He is always smiling and grinning widely. His older brothers dote on him and he is a strong little character in our family. We are just so grateful for him, even with his medical troubles.”
We wish this beautiful family the best as they travel to the United States for Michael’s treatment and we pray that the surgery is a success and Michael is completely healed from his condition.