A maverick is defined as being independent in behaviour and thought, but you can add resilient and fighter to that definition after meeting seven-month-old Maverick Vanderzwaag.
When Maverick was born he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease which included defects such as double outlet right ventricle, transposition of the great arteries, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect and narrowing of the aorta. Maverick also has coarctation of the aorta; shot gunned left and right coronaries, suffered from major organ failure and lost all four of his fingers and part of his thumb on his right hand.
He was born in Winkler but was taken to St. Boniface Hospital shortly after birth, but when his oxygen levels didn’t increase he was rushed to Children’s Hospital.
“At first his oxygen levels weren’t coming up and we didn’t think too much of it, but when it didn’t get better they rushed him to Children’s,” said Maverick’s mom Rachel Vanderzwaag, who has two other boys aged six and three.
“We knew when he was being rushed here that there was something serious,”
A week after his birth Maverick underwent a nine hour open heart surgery in Edmonton. Doctors were concerned that he may not survive surgery and he did code in the operating room, but they were able to revive him and complete the procedure.
Rachel said she’s grateful for all of the doctors who have been involved in giving her son a chance at life.
“We’ve received amazing care, they saved his life,” she said.
Maverick has spent every day of his young life in the hospital, but that all changed on January 18 as his family was able to take him home for the first time.
‘It feels amazing to bring him home for the first time, especially after they gave him a five per cent chance of ever coming home,” said Rachel, adding that there have been some close calls over the last seven months such as the three times Maverick’s heart stopped beating.
“It’s definitely been an adjustment and we’ve had to make life as normal as possible for our boys. Family is everything, don’t take anything for granted. It’s been a devastating journey, but we got through it.”
Rachel knows her son has been through a lot in such a short period of time, but she said all the struggles of the last seven months are better than the alternative.
“We’re a heart family for life and we’ll always have to come back here to HSC to see his cardiologist. He’s gone through a lot, he lost his fingers but he has his life,” Rachel said.
“It’s great to have this hospital here in Manitoba.”