Hayden Speed

Heart Surgery a Hard Sell for Hayden

For the first 11 years of Hayden Speed’s life he lived and played like any other child his age. So, when doctors told him he’d need to have open heart surgery his mum Leesa said it was a pretty hard sell.

“Hayden was born with a hole in his heart, but it never gave him trouble. He played soccer, cricket and loved his fishing and it had never affected anything he did, so he just couldn’t understand why he’d have to go through it.”

Hayden was born with ASD, Atrial Septal Defect.  It meant that blood which has just returned from the lungs, leaks from the left atrium into the right, so that it is sent back to the lungs again.  If surgeons didn’t close Hayden’s hole it would most definitely give him problems in the future. 

But there was something else, something so much closer to his heart, that added to Hayden’s anxiety about an operation. His younger brother Ryan died at just four months old from multiple heart defects.

“Hayden was only four at the time,” explains Leesa, “but he witnessed the pain and suffering when we lost Ryan, and it really scared him.  He wondered if he himself would make it through the operation.”

For Leesa and Mike, returning to Auckland hospital was also really difficult.  Leesa said she wasn’t ready for the physical effect being back in the place where they’d spent 10 weeks with Ryan. “I actually had a panic attack.  It was one of the most difficult things to do, and when surgery day came around I just felt sick.” 

Surgeons attempted to close the hole using a catheter, but the hole was too big, so they open heart surgery was the only option. After four hours on the operating table Hayden was back in the ward, tender and sore but otherwise in good health.  His broken heart mended. Hayden’s recovery was incredibly quick and four weeks later he was back to school.  He was given special breathing physio which Leesa says he was motivated to do, because he wanted to get back in to life and put the surgery behind him.

Leesa says if she never has to go up to the heart ward again in her life, she’ll be incredibly happy.

But she also acknowledges the incredible support Heart Kids has given her, not just through Ryan’s short life, but also Hayden’s.  “While Hayden doesn’t really consider himself a ‘heart kid’, he doesn’t want to be different, for me, the support I’ve received and the connections I’ve made through Heart Kids has been invaluable.”