Friday, December 04, 2009

Boy, 13, waits for heart transplant - mother struggles to make ends meet

By NATHAN TAYLOR Packet & Times, Orillia, Ontario

"There's nothing they can really do."

That's a difficult thing to say for a mother who has watched her young son's serious medical condition worsen.

Petar Mitev, a Grade 8 student at Orchard Park Public School, is on a waiting list for a heart transplant. Petar, who is developmentally delayed and autistic, has a rare condition known as restrictive cardiomyopathy, which limits blood flow to the heart.

In an interview a month ago, Petar's mom, Nena Miteva, spoke about the cost pressures of having to drive her son to and from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.

Insurance from work had been cut off, she said, and her car was repossessed because she couldn't make the payments.

The community has offered its support in various ways -- cash donations, volunteer drivers and a donated defibrillator -- but the support isn't keeping pace with Petar's deteriorating condition.

The single mother, who is on leave from work, takes Petar to Toronto every two weeks and has had to take him to the local emergency department a few times in the past month.

"He's getting worse," she said. "Yesterday (Monday), I had to carry him from the house to the taxi."

As well as the on-and-off pain Petar suffers in various parts of his body, the restrictive cardiomyopathy puts stress on his liver, which enlarges.

A doctor told her Petar's heart "could stop beating anytime, any moment, and there's nothing they can do about it because there's no medicine, no cure for it."

"I love my son. I breathe for that kid. I live for that kid," Miteva said. "I'm praying that he'll get his heart."

Even if her prayers are answered, "no one can guarantee his body will accept the new heart," she said.

"If he gets too weak, they won't do the surgery because he won't survive it," she said.

Yesterday was Petar's 13th birthday. The soft-spoken teen's popularity with staff and students at Orchard Park was evident when they sang Happy Birthday after he got off the bus.

"He was so happy. He's just so full of life," Miteva said.

On the weekend, she held a birthday party for Petar -- something she's hoping to do again next year, understanding 40% of children with cardiomyopathy die within the first two years of diagnosis.

"I don't know if he's going to live until then," she said. "I'm not ready to give him back to God. He's too young. He's suffered all his life."

Donations can be dropped off at Orchard Park (24 Calverley St.). For more information, call the school at 705-325-7772.

So far, people have donated anything from $20 to $200. The Washago Lioness Club recently donated $200. Also, Bodel Communications Inc. gave hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards for various purposes, including gas, groceries and clothes.

"The community here is awesome. They're really helpful," Miteva said, thanking everyone who has helped.

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