'My miracle:' Teen heart attack survivor to undergo groundbreaking, life-saving surgery — again

'My miracle:' Teen heart attack survivor to undergo groundbreaking, life-saving surgery — again

A Winnipeg teen who had groundbreaking, life-saving heart surgery as a baby will have to undergo groundbreaking, life-saving surgery once again after a heart attack earlier this month.

Hunter Boitteaux, 16, collapsed on the floor of Murdoch MacKay Collegiate’s gym on Feb. 7 after his heart stopped. Teachers reacted quickly, using chest compressions and an AED (automated external defibrillator) to keep him alive until paramedics arrived, his parents Brent and Ginette say.

“[The teachers were] miracle workers,” Brent said.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Ginette added.

Brent, Ginette and Hunter

Ginette, Hunter and Brent Boitteaux at a hospital in Edmonton during the boy’s first surgery. (Brent and Ginette Boitteaux/Supplied)

As a baby, Hunter was diagnosed with ALCAPA (anomalous left coronary artery), a heart defect that left his left coronary artery on the right side of the organ.

“So that meant we had to do the surgery to re-place it into the left,” Ginette said.

At only seven months old, surgeons in Edmonton replaced the artery with a stent, but the life-saving tube they used hadn’t been approved for use at that time.

Doctors had to get special permission from Health Canada to perform the surgery, Ginette says.

“So it was basically our last resort,” she recalled. “Getting that permission to use it, well, it meant the world to us.”

The surgery was successful and the family travelled to Alberta for annual checkups. Hunter was given a clean bill of health as recently as October, Brent says.

Hunter is currently in St. Boniface Hospital where he is stable, Brent says, but doctors have told him his son needs to go to Alberta for another round of surgery that’s never been done before, likely within the week.

“The problem that they’re telling us now is an angiogram — like the gold standard to look at [the stent] — from up top it looks good, but in reality … there’s about 70 per cent tissue blockage in there. [Heart tissue is] growing on the inside [of the stent].”

Another open-heart surgery is required to fix the problem, Brent says. The first-generation stent will have to be opened from the outside, stretched and then patched with tissue to prevent it from closing up again.

Brent and Ginette Boitteaux

Brent and Ginette Boitteaux say their son, Hunter, collapsed at school after suffering a heart attack. (Pat Kaniuga/CBC)

“It’s hard,” said Ginette, adding all Hunter wants to do is go back to school. “Every time I close my eyes, I see what I walked into in the school gym.

“But then I look at Hunter and I think about — everyone has a miracle in life, and in mine, he’s my miracle. I’m happy that I still have him.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for the family to help offset the cost of travel and taking time off from work.

Published at Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:25:03 -0500