The Weekend Australian
As three-week-old Nathan Garcia continued to struggle for life yesterday in intensive care at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, Joanne Crisp sent him and his parents a message of hope from Perth. Two years ago, Joanne’s son James had the same critical heart surgery in Melbourne to correct his heart defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and today James is like any other healthy two-year-old.
Nathan’s plight was reported last week in The Weekend Australian, and his parents Brian and Monique Garcia, from Perth, endured a roller-coaster week in which they saw their son off the ventilator, then back on it after contracting an infection.
Mrs Crisp, at home in Burswood with James, tried to contact the Royal Children’s Hospital to tell the Garcias: “Take one step at a time and never, ever give up hope.” James had two cardiac arrests and repeated surgery by specialist Christian Brizard to save his life after he was born with the defect at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital on October 3, 2000. He was transferred to the children’s hospital for the surgery when two days old, spent three weeks in intensive care, and was not discharged until he was 14 weeks old. Mrs Crisp, 30, said: “At one stage the intensive care staff told us ‘I’m afraid he’s crashed in a heap, and it doesn’t look good.’ So we sat outside and prayed.”
“It was amazing he survived. But his heart function has gradually improved to the point where it’s normal. He gets breathless, but otherwise he does everything any other two year-old does — goes to play group, the park and the beach.”
Nathan went back into surgery on Thursday for repairs to his left diaphragm, and he has since developed a bowel infection. With extra tubes now draining his stomach and lungs, the number of lines keeping him alive in intensive care has risen to 20.
Thursday brought the Garcias more mixed emotions. Nathan opened his eyes for the first time since major surgery eight days before, but his parents were shocked by his grey colour. Their spirits rose yesterday when he regained some colour. “We’re not giving up hope.” said Mr Garcia.