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Community comes together to support Marystown girl with heart issues

Mya Saint, age five, of Marystown was in Halifax last week where she underwent heart surgery at IWK Health Centre. Mya poses for a photo during an Autism Awareness event held at Extreme Pita in Burin on April 29.
Mya Saint, age five, of Marystown was in Halifax last week where she underwent heart surgery at IWK Health Centre. Mya poses for a photo during an Autism awareness event held at Extreme Pita in Burin on April 29. - Colin Farrell

#TeamMya

MARYSTOWN, N.L.— People in Marystown have come together to show their support for Mya Saint and her family as the five-year-old underwent heart surgery at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, N.S.

Mya’s mother, Melissa Saint, explained that her daughter has a condition called aortic valve stenosis whereby the aortic valve is tight and restricts blood flow.

“When she was six months old we went to Halifax where she had a cardiac catheterization done, they ballooned the valve and it was a successful procedure,” Melissa recalled.

She added that over the past five years the valve in her daughter’s heart began to tighten again.

“We were closely watched by the Janeway (Children’s Hospital) cardiology team,” Melissa explained. “If Mya showed any signs of tiredness (more than usual) we would have to go get the procedure done again.”

Melissa said on April 26 her daughter had been playing on a trampoline at the home of her babysitter with her friends when she collapsed.

Mya was rushed to the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre and then on to the Janeway where she spent a night in the ICU.

“Tests had shown Mya’s heart had an episode and was later determined that due to over exertion on the trampoline, Mya wasn't getting enough blood flow through her aortic valve which caused her to get weak,” she said.

Mya was released from the Janeway. She and her family returned home to Marystown, but Mya was required to wear a holter, a device that records her heart during activity, “and again there was significant activity indicating that Mya’s heart was working hard.”

The cardiologist at the Janeway contacted the IWK children's hospital, who suggested Mya have a cardiac catheterization done again.

Support

Melissa said many people contacted her to see how Mya was doing.

“I took to social media to let everyone know at once that we were going to Halifax again and that's when the snowball started,” she said. “Many people wanted to help Mya on her journey.”

The family is overwhelmed by all the support they have received from the community. Local businesses held a variety of fundraisers to help the family with the cost of the emergency trip.

“Colin Pittman photography started and then Toby's (Mya’s father) coworkers at Marystown ambulance had t-shirts made with Team Mya on them,” said Saint.

Patsy Green sold tickets at the music festival and others in the community also held tickets draws, sold ribbons and more.

Colin Pittman Photography stepped up to offer tickets on a prize worth $500.

“I've known the Saint family for quite some time and I have been photographing them ever since I started my business,” he explained.

Pittman, who is also a substitute teacher, has taught Mya a few times at Sacred Heart, and has spent time with the family during events hosted by the Autism Support Group.

“As a parent with four children, I can only imagine the emotional stress related to dealing with her sort of situation,” said Pittman. “So I wanted to do whatever I could for them.

“I thought about it a little and quickly realized that no monetary donation I could make personally would amount to anything near what I could raise through a fundraiser like this.” He added that realistically, the $500 worth of services will cost him only a fraction of that to provide, mostly just time spent, and he was able to collect donations in excess of $2,500.

“Financial concerns should be the last thing on your mind when dealing with a family emergency,” he added.

Melissa said the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support shown by community members.

“It's very humbling to know that so many wanted to help,” she said.

Home sweet home

Melissa said Mya has been doing good since returning home on May 12, “but we have to keep a close eye on her in case she shows signs of fatigue.”

She added that her daughter’s main artery was damaged during the procedure, so they have to keep checking for the pulse in her foot as it was lost during the procedure.

Mya will continue to be monitored by the Janeway and she will eventually need to have another procedure done “as this procedure didn't have the best results.”

colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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