Meet Grayson, an energetic 12-year-old from Sooke who underwent three open heart surgeries before age four. In utero, he was diagnosed with congenital heart defects: transposition of the great arteries, ventricular septal defect, and a complex pulmonary outflow tract causing his family to relocate to Vancouver for his birth at BC Children’s Hospital. His first surgery was at just 5 days old and was followed by complications leading to a 28-day hospital stay. He spent most of his first year of life being nourished with a nasogastric (NG) tube but you’d never know it by looking at him now. In fact, he’s a star hockey player with the Sooke Thunderbirds and scored three goals this past season! He does get winded easily but he’s a rocket on the ice.
Grayson’s medical future is marked with annual cardiologist visits and echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds) along with close monitoring of his liver and gut function. Like most kids, he’s had a few broken bones over the years, but unlike most kids he needs to go to the operating room for general anesthesia to reset them due to his complex heart. His mom, a high school teacher, takes this in stride and actively shares Grayson’s heart anatomy and journey with her Biology students.
When Grayson found out he was eligible for a Dream, he immediately gravitated to a cruise. After further talks with his family, they opted for a Caribbean Disney cruise, and what a cruise it was! They spent their days at sea exploring the boat; meeting characters like Donald Duck, watching musicals, and hitting the waterslides. Their excursions were equally exciting, with highlights like snorkeling off Grand Cayman, ziplining, and discovering Disney’s very own island: Castaway Cay. Despite having celiac disease, Grayson found the staff very accommodating and the food was excellent. He especially loved the endless ice cream! In Grayson’s mom’s words, “It was the trip of a lifetime, that’s for sure!”