Finding Strength and Joy: How We Prepared for Our Son's Fontan Operation

Finding Strength and Joy: How We Prepared for Our Son's Fontan Operation

Preparing for Child's Heart Surgery

When our son underwent the Fontan operation in 2015 at the age of four, it was a challenging time for our family. To help keep our minds occupied and maintain a positive outlook, we devised several creative strategies. In this blog post, we will share the various activities we organized leading up to the surgery and how they brought us hope, joy, and a sense of togetherness.

Virtual 5K Run for a Cause

In preparation for our son's surgery, we organized a virtual 5K run during the morning of his operation. As a way to support charities and fuel our son's superhero enthusiasm, we named it the "Super Hero Fun Run." After researching different organizations, we chose the Saving tiny Hearts Society for their dedication to funding research for congenital heart defects.  Additionally we learned the $0.98 of every dollar donated went to fund research.  We would come to understand that, unfortunately, this isn’t always the norm for charitable organizations that often fund high-paying salaries.

To raise funds, we designed t-shirts with our son's input and collaborated with a local vendor to produce them at $15.00 per shirt. Participants were charged $25 for registration, with an additional $10 donated to the chosen charity. We organized the sign-up process through Run Sign-Up (there are now many more options available.  Be sure to research to see what they charge you in funds and transaction processing).  The response was overwhelming, with teams from various companies joining in the event. Many participants even dressed up as superheroes and left inspirational messages on our Facebook page. These activities not only diverted our attention but also created a collection of memorable videos and posts to share with our son during his recovery.

Blood Donation for a Possible Transfusion 

Recognizing the potential need for a blood transfusion during our son's surgery, my husband and I donated blood two weeks prior to the operation. While there was no guarantee that our son would receive our donation, it gave us a sense of fulfillment knowing that it could potentially help other children facing similar circumstances. The act of donating blood allowed us to contribute in a meaningful way and provided us with a sense of comfort and support.

Gifts for Recovery Days

As part of our preparation, we bought 14 gifts from Target and wrapped them in advance. These varied from small trinkets to larger items, all intended to bring joy to our son during his recovery. Each day, we would surprise him with a gift, which became a cherished memory for him. Even now, as he approaches his twelfth birthday, he fondly recalls those moments. This simple gesture not only distracted him from the discomfort and monotony of recovery but also served as a reminder of the love and support surrounding him.

Instilling Hope through a Superhero Narrative

Five days before surgery, we shared with our son that the procedure would help him run faster, similar to his favorite superhero, the Flash. While it wasn't entirely accurate, this age-appropriate depiction shifted the worry away from him and onto us. It allowed him to approach the surgery with excitement rather than fear, empowering him to face the procedure with bravery. By framing the operation as a means to enhance his abilities, we provided him with a positive outlook and fostered a sense of resilience.

Preparing for our son's Fontan operation involved more than just practical arrangements; it was a journey filled with creativity, love, and hope. The virtual 5K run, blood donation, daily gifts, and superhero narrative created a supportive environment and helped us maintain a positive mindset throughout the process. These memories remain a testament to our family's strength and the power of finding joy in the face of adversity. We hope that sharing our experiences will inspire others facing similar challenges to find their own unique ways to navigate difficult times with resilience and hope for the future.