November 16, 2016
Jacob Weeks-Anderson, 13, had a heart transplant on Sept. 30, and his recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. In addition to first-class health care, his mom, Jennifer, credits his recovery to his unwavering determination and the normalcy he finds at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto.
Jacob, from St. Stephen, N.B., first stayed at RMHC Toronto in 2014 when he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Two years later, in May 2016, he was back, in need of a transplant.
After months of waiting, Jacob and his mom got a call on Sept. 30 saying they needed to come to the hospital right away. He was getting a new heart.
“I was terrified,” recalls Jennifer. “His medical team told me that the most critical time is when the new heart starts to beat. I went to the chapel at the hospital and I prayed. As soon as I walked out, my phone rang. It was Jacob’s nurse telling me his new heart was beating.”
Though Jacob was expected to be in the hospital for up to three months post-transplant, he was released after just six days. His doctors said that speed is unprecedented.
“Everything is a challenge for him,” says Jennifer. “You could see he was so extremely sick, but he just had this fight. He was up walking after three days. He’s so strong.”
Back at RMHC Toronto, Jacob’s health continues to improve. His mom says the services and sense of community here have been “majorly helpful” in his recovery.
“He’s been able to live in a home-like environment, and that’s huge,” she says. “He goes to school, he plays his Xbox, we go for walks. One day we borrowed the family car and went for a drive, and he turned to me and said, ‘Thank you mom.’ Just touring around and cranking the tunes made him so happy because it felt normal. Normalcy is all he needs, and that’s what RMHC Toronto provides.”
If all goes well, Jennifer and Jacob hope to return home soon. They’ll continue to be positive, as it has served them well thus far.
“Being at RMHC Toronto as long as we have, I see that as a positive,” says Jennifer. “Even if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t want to go through this anywhere else.”