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Fortune boy to travel to Halifax for open heart surgery

Four-year-old AJ Matterface is awaiting a call to go to Halifax for surgery to repair two holes in his heart. COLIN FARRELL/THE SOUTHERN GAZETTE
Four-year-old AJ Matterface is awaiting a call to go to Halifax for surgery to repair two holes in his heart. COLIN FARRELL/THE SOUTHERN GAZETTE - Colin Farrell

Family of AJ Matterface on standby for operation date

FORTUNE, N.L. —

FORTUNE, N.L. — It is a stressful time at the home of four-year-old AJ Matterface of Fortune. The young boy is awaiting open heart surgery to repair two holes in his heart, one in the wall dividing the upper two chambers and another in the wall dividing the lower two.

The family has been been notified by the cardiology team at IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia to expect a call soon.

"We were told that we will receive a call in four to six weeks that will give us a definite date," explained Deloris Matterface, the young boy's grandmother.

AJ is an active little boy who enjoys riding quad, camping, and taking trips to the park.

His grandmother said as he gets older, symptoms of his heart condition are beginning to to show.

"His heart's swelling," she explained. 

She adds AJ tires easily throughout the day when he is playing.

The condition was first discovered in an ultrasound, and at birth he was transported from the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre to St. John's. He was seen by Dr. Suryakant K. Shah, a cardiologist at the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre.

"They knew he had that heart condition but they just wanted to make sure he wasn't in any intimidate danger," explained Matterface. "We brought him home but we were on follow up every three months."

When AJ goes to Halifax, his grandmother hopes family members will be able to travel along with him to provide support for one another.

"It's a stressful thing," she said. "It's very, very stressful.

"I know I've been there twice with him," she said, referring to AJ's father Morley, who was born with the same condition.

"He had a cardiac arrest when he had his open heart surgery." she adds. 

Morley had his first surgery at six months, and experienced the cardiac arrest during his second operation when he was two years old. 

Efforts are being held to help raise money needed for the family to travel to Halifax to accompany AJ. Deloris estimates they will need $3,000 to cover the cost of the flight and accommodations while there.

"We're looking at a week, if not longer," she explained. "It depends on how AJ does, really."

Deloris said adding to both the stress and the cost is the out of province travel to receive the surgery for her grandson.

"If we could just pack up and go to St. John's and get this done in St. John's it would be so much easier," she said. "We surely wouldn't be looking at a fundraiser because we'd all be together in there anyway."

A soup luncheon will be held at the Royal Canadian Legion in Fortune on Oct. 5, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m, to raise money for the Matterface family.


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