Transplant gives teen, family new hope
By Krysta Colbourne The Advertiser
A little more than a year ago, the community was rallying support to help Sheldon King's family deal with expenses.
Having a heart attack as a teenage, it seems, can be quite costly.
And now a year later, Sheldon is living a fairly normal life - no small feat considering what he has been through.
In the summer of 2008, at the age of 15, Sheldon King suffered a heart attack. After spending three months at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's, it was determined he has a congenital heart defect.
It soon became clear than his heart condition was more serious than expected and if he were to survive, he would need a heart transplant.
On Nov. 11, 2008, Sheldon was flown to the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto where he received a new heart two days later.
Sheldon and his mother Jackie spent the next four months at the Ronald McDonald House.
With a Ronald McDonald House in the fundraising stages in this province, Ms. King said it will be beneficial to a lot of people.
"I think that is great," Ms. King said. "You get to meet a lot of people who are going through he same situation."
In the past year, Sheldon has been back to Sick Kids six times, with the next trip scheduled for July and has been to the Janeway at least a dozen times to see neurologists and cardiologists - not including his doctor visits and regular blood work in Grand Falls-Windsor.
"She wants to move up to Brampton to be close to the hospital," Sheldon said pointing to his mother.
Ms. King said the family's plans for moving to Ontario are still up in the air but it is something she would like to do in the near future.
"For him, I want to be closer to Sick Kids Hospital," she said. "I would feel more comfortable myself."
Ms. King said the trips depend on the kind of tests the doctors want to do.
"He has different tests done," she said. "He has biopsies done on Toronto; regular blood, EEGs, echocardiograms.'
The good news - the results are always positive.
"He is doing wonderful," his mother said. "He is doing really good."
Sheldon said he is still taking medication and he has to drink a lot of water - at least 2 liters of water a day - something he will have to do for the rest of his life.
"He is allowed to do mostly everything but he is not allowed to do contact sports. But basically he can do anything that anybody else can do."
Now 16, Sheldon said he has been feeling fine. He likes to do things any teen would like to do - ride his bike, play video games and going outside running around with his friends. He said his favorite sport is handball and he has an ambition to become an airplane pilot.
For now, Sheldon can enjoy a plane ride to Florida with his family on May 22 as his wish from the Children's Wish Foundation.
"His wish was granted about a month or so after his transplant but there were a lot of things that came up that had to be taken care of before he actually got his wish," Ms. King said.
Now the family is ready to go to see Mickey Mouse, sunshine, and all the other adventures that are in store for them.
Sheldon said he is excited and can't wait to see the Hollywood stunt show to see cars blowing up. He is looking forward to playing mini-golf at the village and in the Magic Kingdom, too.
The trip includes, but is not exclusive to three days in the Walt Disney World Park, two days in Universal Orlando, one day in Sea World.
The family will be staying at Give Kids the World Village, which is located on the outskirts of Disney World, where they will have its own personal villa, accommodated with its own kitchen, bedrooms and everything a home would have.
"Give Kids the World resort is for wish kids," Ms. King said. "For children that have terminal illnesses or went through organ transplants and are having wishes."
Meanwhile, Sheldon's new heart continues to allow him to experience a full life - a trip to the doctor last week garnered yet another favorable report.
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