The Zheng family proudly welcomed their first-born child, a son, Matthew, into the world on October 2, 2014. After his birth, doctors found a defect in Matthew’s heart. He was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a rare congenital heart defect and high lung pressure. Despite his diagnosis, the doctors thought Matthew’s heart was strong and surgery was not necessary at that time. Unfortunately, that was not the case; and two weeks later Matthew was rushed to the hospital after he began turning blue.
Having only been in the US for a short time, the experience was even more frightening for Matthew’s parents. The hospital was a blur of unknown words made worse because of the language barrier and their unfamiliarity with medical terminology. According to Matthew’s father, Kaiyuan, the only question they asked was if what they were doing was going to help their child survive. The next four days were the worst. Matthew underwent three consecutive surgeries. Mathew’s father recalls signing many papers, some of which talked about the possibility of death, but they tried their best to not let their spirit break.
The scariest day was October 14, 2014. Matthew was in the Cardiovascular Acute Unit of the Los Angeles Children's Hospital because he was suffering from oxygen desaturation. He started doing better and his parents here hopeful that they would be able to take him home soon; however things took a turn for the worse that night. Matthew’s parents had to decide whether or not they were going to put Matthew on ECMO, a life sustaining heart/lung machine. The doctors told them there was a 50% that Matthew could die. When they saw Matthew, his oxygen level was only at 18 and he was pale and cold. Matthew was then placed on an ECMO machine. From then on, they prayed and prayed.
After placing Matthew on the machine, the surgeons said he came back like a miracle. Matthew began to do better, and was healthy and happy. However, it was determined that Matthew would eventually need to undergo a cardiac catheterization and another open heart surgery.
A TOF repair occurred on August 25, 2015, and was successful. However, in September, the doctors found a small hole at the top of the repair, which was unexpected. This hole could increase his chances of needing more surgery throughout his life. There is hope though that his heart will grow and the hole will disappear on its own. This is what his family prays for everyday.
EKHA has been caring for this family for over a year. The application processing team decided to help them with a partial mortgage payment last December. A care coordinator keeps in contact with them through email and a care package including a blanket was sent when Matthew had surgery in July. They also receive daily online devotionals to offer them encouragement on their journey and are a part of an online caring community forum EKHA has set up to serve heart families.
“Doctor did what they can do, we are here to grow him up.”
Kaiyuan Zheng (Matthew’s father)