Special honour for young heart transplant recipient

Sicamous family invited to take part in David Foster Foundation gala

Every day Teri Hutchinson looks into her daughter Britton’s eyes, she’s reminded that medical miracles can and do happen.

Now Teri, Britton and family have another reminder, a copy of the program for the David Foster Foundation’s 30th Anniversary 2017 Vancouver Miracle Gala and Concert, which features Britton on the cover.

Related: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Britton was born with a rare congenital heart defect that, at three months, necessitated a heart transplant. The procedure was done at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

“The transplant and surgical teams worked through the night performing the miraculous procedure,” Hutchinson wrote on Facebook on Sept. 4, 2015. “The healthy new heart seems to be a very good fit and everyone involved is over the moon with how well she is doing. The heart could not have come at a more brilliant time, as little did anyone know Britton’s shunt was clotting again and her stats were dropping moments before the surgery began! Words cannot explain our feelings and emotions at this time. We are overwhelmed and excited as a weight has been lifted.”

Britton was released from hospital two weeks after her surgery. To help with the unanticipated costs of having to leave their Sicamous home to stay and Edmonton, Teri and husband Colin received some assistance from the David Foster Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial support for non-medical expenses to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants.

“We were displaced from home and up in Edmonton for seven months, so obviously I wasn’t working and my husband actually did have work but he couldn’t work a lot up there while we were undergoing all of this…,” said Hutchinson. “We got a little bit of help from them… And… the first one to two years is pretty intense with appointments and different procedures and stuff. There’s a lot of travel – we were going back every month for a number of months and then it slowly spaced out.”

Since the transplant, Britton has grown into an “energetic, busy, witting, funny and sometimes sassy little two-year old.” Meanwhile, the Hutchinson’s have remained in contact with the David Foster Foundation, grateful for their assistance and supporters of the cause.

Earlier this year, the foundation reached out to Teri to see if they could use a photo she had taken of Briton on a park bench in Sicamous on the program for the foundation’s upcoming 30th anniversary fundraising gala. In it, Britton is holding a framed black and white photo of herself from September 2015, just before surgery.

“I sent it to them and they said, ‘yeah, we can make it work and we’d love to use it if you’d allow it,’ and I’m like, ‘absolutely!’, said Hutchinson.

Later, the foundation board invited the Hutchinson family to take part in a special meet and greet with David Foster on Oct. 20, and then enjoy the concert on the 21st.

“The concert was amazing,” said Hutchinson. “There was a lot of talent there, it was put together really great and it went quite late… Britton stayed awake for whole thing…

“It was a really cool experience and obviously, that foundation hits us really close to home, even with our little bit of experience with them, just experiencing a transplant and knowing what we went through and what so many other families go through.”

Teri was also thrilled that the gala raised $10.2 million for the foundation.

“We were there when they raised $10.2 million, which is an all-time high for the foundation and that helps an incredible amount of families,” said Hutchinson. “So we got to watch the auction and the bids and stuff go for the donations, so that was pretty awesome.”

The meet and greet was also memorable. While they didn’t get a chance to speak with Foster in person, they did get to meet other families with whom they could easily relate.

“One family in particular was really relatable to us,” said Hutchinson. “They have a daughter, she’s 16 now, and she had a heart transplant at five months old. Britton was three months old when she had hers. So that is really interesting to see how well she was doing and they were really positive in telling us that they think there’s a long happy life ahead.”


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