Early July we had the pleasure of visiting with good friends Jamie and Heather, who are currently living in downtown, Toronto. Today (Oct 5, 2016) marks their 2 year anniversary of leaving their beautiful home in Newfoundland for a condo in downtown Toronto. During our last day visiting, we took Jamie and Heather outside their condo for a short photo session. We wanted to share their photos and their story, it’s entirety is just amazing. The transformation Jamie has gone through is incredible and his journey towards receiving a heart transplant is like no other. Heather has been by his side every step of the way. For those of you not familiar with Jamie and Heather’s story, we asked Heather to write us a little blog based on their experiences during Jamie’s journey to one day (soon) receiving a heart transplant.
Below is Heather’s blog. Please enjoy and feel free to share.
“I could talk forever about what we have been through, but I will let Aamie’s pictures do most of the talking – as she was able to capture the silly, the serious, and loving moments that make up Our Story.
Jamie was born with a heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries, and had open heart surgery at a year old. Jamie’s health started to decline in 2008, and by 2012 he was told that he was in severe heart failure. We were told to travel to Toronto immediately to a specialized hospital, as the treatment Jamie needed was not available in Newfoundland. It was 15 days before our wedding. Jamie was medevaced to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre -Toronto General Hospital, where he was stabilized enough to allow us to go home and get married. From 2012 – 2014 we made 10 trips to Toronto, which kept Jamie well enough to live in Newfoundland, travel and build our dream home. By the end of 2014 Jamie returned to Toronto for a transplant assessment. We left Newfoundland in October 2014 and were never able to come back home. So much has happened in the last two years. Jamie’s condition worsened resulting in a Code Blue; he had his thyroid removed and a pacemaker and defibrillator installed. These interventions helped, however Jamie’s heart was wearing out. A transplant was his only option; but unfortunately Jamie would be too sick to survive the surgery.
In May 2015 doctors implanted a heart pump called a VAD. As you can see, the VAD is attached to Jamie and is with him at all times. The pump took some time to get used too, however it has improved Jamie’s quality of life dramatically and he is now almost back to the “old” Jamie. In April 2016 we got the news we had been waiting for – Jamie was on the transplant list. It has now been six months since Jamie went “on the list”, and it could take another year until a heart is available.
This experience has been difficult, scary, frustrating, stressful…the list goes on; however there have also been many positives along the way. Most importantly Jamie is alive and well! Toronto has given us opportunities that we would not have in Newfoundland.
While being in this situation has been hard, we constantly try and make the best of our situation. We could not have gotten here without the help of many. It will never be possible to repay each person, so we have decided to try and help others in similar situations. I volunteer with Hope Air, which provides free flights to people who need to travel for medical reasons and I am about to start volunteering at Ronald McDonald House – a “home away from home” for families of sick children. Jamie has become a VAD “ambassador” and speaks to patients who are considering a VAD, to show them what life will be like after surgery.
People often say: “You are way stronger than me” or “I could never deal with a situation like that”. We are no stronger than anyone else. We are two ordinary people, put in an extraordinary situation. You never know what you are able to do until you are put in the situation. People also ask: “How do you stay positive?” There are many days when we are not so positive and that’s ok. We try and keep in mind that we are in this no matter what, and we choose how we respond to it. We choose to be positive because life is too short. We live each day to the fullest.
When thinking about Our Story, I am always aware that without Jamie there would be no story. He is the strongest, most determined person I have ever met. He never gives up and has maintained his sense of humor throughout it all. He is truly amazing and I am grateful that I get to be the other half of Our Story.
Thanks Aamie and Jim for helping us capture this chapter.”
Click below are some helpful links
Transposition of the Great Arteries
Peter Munk Cardiac Centre -Toronto General Hospital
Ronald McDonald House
We hope you enjoy Jamie and Heather’s photo session <3
And this is where Jamie began to belt out the song “I’m too sexy”…
Aamie & Jim
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Gail Sweeney - Sending lots of prayers your way….You got this Mr. W. Your pictures say it all. Sending you loads of prayers for a successful transplant….Hugs to you and Heather…xo
Theresa power - Heather and hubby. Such a truly inspirational story. I do hope you guys get your happily ever after real soon. God bless you both and keep up the fight. All the best for the future