“Her only hope for survival is a heart transplant.” Addison McArthur’s parents will never forget the moment they learned their newborn was in a desperate fight for her life. She was just three weeks old. As a heart-lung machine kept her alive, doctors at BC Children’s Hospital scrambled to figure out why her heart was in failure. Within 72 hours of arriving in the ER, Addison was listed at the top of the transplant list. Then just two days later, Elaine and Aaron got the call – a heart was available for their daughter. Addison received her second chance at life on Mother’s Day 2011.
As the family adjusted to their “new reality”, which included 15 daily doses of medication upon discharge from the hospital, they quickly realized life as a transplant patient would require constant monitoring. “You are exchanging a deadly medical condition with a chronic health problem that needs life-long management. It isn’t a cure,” stresses Elaine.
When Addison was 16 months post-transplant, she came down with a pneumonia that is rare amongst healthy individuals, yet is a severe, opportunistic – and sometimes deadly – infection for transplant patients. She was quickly put on a high-dose of IV drugs and after three weeks, doctors gave the family the all clear to go home. But research has shown transplant recipients who have been diagnosed with this disease once are at high risk of recurrence. The Vancouver toddler was put on a preventative dose of the medication for a year to ensure she would stay healthy.
Now Addison is an energetic and inquisitive kindergartener who loves riding her bike, drawing, skating and skiing. In 2015 she was the youngest competitor at the World Transplant Games in Argentina, bringing home two gold medals. Her parents enjoy every moment with their little fighter, yet the future remains uncertain, as it does for all transplant patients. They are dedicated supporters of transplant research and started the Addison Fund in 2013 to raise money for pediatric projects. In 2016, the TRF partnered with the CNTRP and several other organizations to launch a ground breaking national Team Grant initiative. “Our greatest hope is that one day, in Addison’s lifetime, transplant will be a cure.”