February is a special month for Teri Hutchinson and her daughter Britton, who received a heart transplant at three months of age.
In addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day on the 14th, Teri has taken time raise awareness to it also being Heart Month.
Teri has publicly acknowledged and thanked everyone who contributed to Britton being alive today – family and friends, doctors and Britton’s care team and the family who donated her daughter’s heart.
Teri said Britton, now one year and nine months old, is very lucky to have received a life-saving heart transplant.
“Today Britton is a happy, energetic, goofy kid!,” said Hutchinson. “She continues to be as feisty and sensitive as she’s always been… We are so proud of our Britton. Her strength, courage and determination is a constant inspiration.”
Teri said she and her husband, Colin, were registered organ donors before they learned their second daughter would be born with pulmonary artesia with intact ventricular septum, a rare congenital heart defect.
The Sicamous family had to stay in Edmonton, where their daughter was being treated. A series of surgeries was required to support Britton’s heart, with the understanding she would need a transplant. The need was expedited after she suffered a cardiac arrest. A donor was found and Britton received the transplant in September.
“She received her heart at three months of age, so we were in hospital from when she was born to when she received the heart, and two weeks after we were discharged,” said Teri. “Two weeks to the day. Then it was just frequent appointments for another few months and then we got the green light to come home.”
Through her experience with Britton, Teri said she’s learned that heart defects and/or the need for transplants is more common among infants and youth than she’d thought, as is the need for registered organ donors.
“There are not enough organ donors by far,” said Teri. “It’s something you never think is going to cross your plate in life but, obviously, we’re very pro for organ transplants and organ donors.
“I think the statistic is one organ donor can save up to eight lives. It was kind of incredible to be in the hospital – you’re so focused on your situation and your child, but there were at least a couple of other children who also received from the same donor at that time, and that’s something I never thought about and it was just incredible, how far one donor can go.
“We were so lucky, it just gives me goosebumps, we were so lucky to get the call because there are just so many kids and people who don’t make it.”
For information about becoming a donor, and to register, visit www.transplant.bc.ca.