The Davies family — Tim, his wife Andi, and children Charlotte, 10, and Oliver, 7 — experienced a true Christmas miracle last year.
On Dec. 23, Tim had a heart transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
For the second time.
Fifteen years ago at age 25, the Comox man underwent transplant surgery, but that heart eventually stopped working sufficiently for his body.
Last summer, his name was put back on the transplant list. On Dec. 22, the family received a call that a donor heart awaited. The next day, Tim again underwent surgery.
“Pretty good Christmas gift although it was pretty scary for them,” said friend Jessi Connaughton, noting the family had received a previous call. “They had one false alarm where they were put onto the helicopter and sent over, and it turned out it wasn’t going to go ahead.”
After surgery, Tim spent the following month at St. Paul’s. He was then discharged to an apartment in Vancouver — walking distance to the hospital — where he will remain while doctors monitor his progress.
His recovery has been slow but steady. He is exercising through a Healthy Heart program at the hospital which incorporates cardio and light weight training.
“When I first got out of the hospital it was a real challenge just to get up two or three steps, but now I can do about two flights of stairs,” Tim said while walking with Andi on Kits Beach. “The strength is definitely improving.”
The 41-year-old was born with a coarctation, or narrowing, of the aorta. He had a few corrective surgeries on his original heart, the last at age 18, but was eventually told a transplant was needed.
“With care and medication we made it through to 25,” he said.
Over the last two years, doctors did their best to keep things going without a second transplant. But Tim’s health was failing to the point where it was taking a toll on his kidneys, among other things.
“It was a bit trying, being that close to Christmas,” he said of the call for the second transplant. “But it was a real Christmas gift as well.”
Time spent 10 days in hospital after the first transplant. The second required two weeks in intensive care.
“The surgeon said it was a really messy surgery,” he said. “My mom and dad were somewhat taken aback because the first one went quite smoothly.”
Family members have been rotating visits.
“I’ve got so much support. I’m a fighter, I guess you could say. It’s all turned out very well, thankfully. I know I caused my family a lot of stress. It was the first time my wife’s been through it because I wasn’t married when I had the first one done.”
Tim — a special education assistant at Brooklyn Elementary in Comox — has been off work for more than a year. Andi has been working part-time between trips to Vancouver.
Trips across the water, coupled with the double cost of renting the Vancouver apartment while maintaining their Comox house has been costly, which is why Connaughton has initiated an online fundraising campaign to assist the family with expenses.
As of Feb. 20, the campaign had raised $6,265. The goal is $25,000. There are 54 days left to donate.
”People have been so generous, it’s been really nice to see,” she said.
To donate, visit bit.ly/1DBDpzx
“It’s been really quite helpful,” Tim said. “We’re very grateful.”
His father’s cousin, who phoned from Wales to find the website, is among the donors.
Donations are also coming in through Brooklyn Elementary, where Charlotte and Oliver attend school.