Just months after their son Lucas was born, the Tanswell family’s world was turned upside down when they learned that he needed a heart transplant.
Luckily, a match for little Lucas was found, and after months in hospital, the family is back home adjusting to life together again.
“I love when people say, ‘he didn’t have a heart transplant.’ They almost don’t believe us,” says Lucas’ mother.
Lucas’ parents Anne-Marie MacKenzie and Milton Tanswell told Global News that Lucas, who was born in March 2018, went into heart failure in June — he was just three months old.
Lucas was flown from Kingston General Hospital to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. The family stayed at Sick Kids from that time until Lucas received his transplant at only ten months old, on Jan. 29, 2019.
Now at almost two years old, Lucas’ parents say he is doing better than ever and is enjoying life at home with his sister Adelaide.
“He’s a firecracker,” Tanswell says laughing.
When discussing the dynamic between Lucas and Adelaide as siblings, Tanswell says: “His and Adelaide’s relationship is so special. I do imagine that one of these days he will learn to fight back or say no, but for now they are the best of friends.”
After a roller coaster of emotions during the process of receiving a transplant for their newborn, Tanswell says they no longer sweat the small stuff.
“We heard a lot of people say ‘be prepared for when you get home’ and I remember thinking ‘yeah… that’s going to be hard compared to heart failure.”
Though Lucas’ parents are grateful for their son’s incredible recovery, they say they will never forget the child who lost their life in order to let Lucas live his.
MacKenzie says: “It’s a celebration but you’re also mourning at the same time and I think every single day we give thanks to the donor family… all we can do is give thanks because there is nothing else we can do.”
MacKenzie told Global News that they do not know who the donor family is, but they were told that the donor was a child.
She says she hopes that the success of Lucas’ life gives them some peace and closure, knowing that their selfless decision saved his life.
Lucas’ parents say that while organ donation may not be the most comfortable subject to discuss, they hope people become more open with the topic.
The parents are currently in the process of thinking of ways to help other families in similar situations who are in need of support.
Anne-Marie says, “To have other people say to us ‘your experience changed how I look at my children’ or ‘your experience changed how I look at my life’, that’s unbelievable in my opinion,”