The boy with half a heart

When Jacinta and husband Justin went for their 20-week ultrasound, they were told the devastating news that their little boy had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and he would be born with only half a heart.

“I can’t tell you how broken my own heart was that day. We were scared and unsure what this meant for him, but we knew if he’s anything like his mum, dad and sisters, he’d have a big fighting spirit!”

And fight he did.

Now after three open-heart surgeries, instead of struggling to walk due to shortness of breath, Leo is a happy, energetic five-year-old. He loves to run and throw the ball around, and has even joined an Auskick team.

But Jacinta knows they’re not out of the woods just yet.

“The future is uncertain and at any time things can change for us. Leo could go into cardiac arrest.”

It makes research like that of Professor Richard Harvey all the more important. His study of hypoplastic left heart syndrome is using stem cells to search for a genetic pattern that leads to childhood heart disease.

For now, Jacinta and Justin are staying positive.

“We roll with the punches and take it one day at a time. There will be more good days, and bad ones too, but our Leo is everything we had dreamed about.”

“Despite having half a heart, he is a happy little boy with an even bigger personality. As my husband says, he has more heart than anyone we know. And I think I’d have to agree.”