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Ryder's Story

“My son Ryder was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome at my 12-week antenatal ultrasound. I don’t know why, but I went to my appointment that day with a feeling things weren’t right.

The word to describe what I felt when I was told my baby was going to be born with a severe and complex heart defect, was gut-wrenching. I was beyond devastated.

I was offered termination up until 36 weeks and then palliative care when he was born, as his chances of survival were slim to none. But I was determined that my son was going to be a fighter and I continued with my pregnancy.

I cherished every movement, every ultrasound and every day of my pregnancy, and prayed that he would make it. I didn’t care if I only got a minute, an hour or a day with him, all I wanted was for him to know how loved he was.

The day Ryder was born, the room was filled with about 20 doctors and nurses who were ready to move him to the Royal Children’s Hospital. Ryder had his first open heart surgery at 48 hours old. After this, everyone knew he was meant to be here. We had a fighter!

Ryder had the doctors amazed at how well he did and he was discharged to Ronald McDonald House at 19 days old. He had his second surgery at four months old and at five months old he was discharged. We were sent back home to NSW after we’d relocated to Melbourne when I was 38 weeks pregnant. It was an amazing feeling!

Ryder is now two and he’s thriving! He’s such an amazing kid. His big Brother Levi adores him and his little sister Adelyn admires him. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

Although a tough journey and rough start to life, I wouldn’t change our story for the world. It’s made us really appreciate the little things in life and to value every opportunity you’re given.

Ryder still has a long way to go. He’ll need a third surgery when he’s five. He has good days and bad days, but he’s a tough kid.

Watching your child go through something like an open heart bypass surgery is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Not a day goes by where I don’t wish I could take his place.

There is no answer for how long he will be here but I’m determined to make sure he has the best life possible! He has the best personality and the biggest heart out of anyone I’ve ever met – even if he was born with only half a heart.

I’m proud to be a heart mum and I’m glad Ryder chose me,” - Hailey, Ryder's mum.

You can help kids like Ryder by supporting vital discoveries at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.

Learn more about CHD

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