Success Stories

Who is Herbie helping?

Nathaniel Thompson, Trinidad

Meet Our Hero: Nathaniel Thompson, Trinidad

Child’s condition: Transposition of the great artery
Age: One on date of surgery
Treated: December 2011 through the Herbie Fund

At barely one year old, Nathaniel traveled over 4000 kilometers from his home in Trinidad to Canada. Unable to receive treatment for his complex cardiac condition at home, the Herbie Fund provided Nathaniel a ticket to the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. The Herbie Fund provided Nathaniel a ticket to hope.

Nathaniel was born at San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad by cesarean section. As far as doctors and his mother Nickelia could tell, Nathaniel was a healthy baby; but, a routine medical examination six days after Nathaniel's birth revealed numerous complicated congenital heart defects.

"There was no way for us to know that anything was wrong with Nathaniel until he was born," said Nikelia. "We were so lucky they discovered the condition during a routine diagnosis."

Nathaniel was diagnosed with transposition of the great artery (TGA), a condition where the aorta and the pulmonary artery are switched in the heart. While the survival rate for infants with TGA is greater than 90 per cent, without a means to receive surgery in Trinidad, Nickelia felt hopeless.

But the Herbie Fund would turn Nickelia's hopelessness into optimism.

"I first heard about the Herbie Fund from the Caribbean Children's Foundation," said Nickelia. "My Aunt Judy knew the president, and she told me the Herbie fund helps children who can't get surgery in their home countries."

With some help from the Carribean Children's Foundation, and her family in Toronto, Nathaniel and Nickelia were on their way to SickKids.

After arriving in Toronto on December 12, 2011, Nathaniel was scheduled to undergo a ventrical switch at the hands of Dr. Van Arsdell, SickKids Head of Cardiovascular Surgery.

"The procedure took eight hours," said Nickela. "There was lots of blood loss during the procedure, so the doctors had to take extra care, and time, to make sure the surgery went smoothly."

And it did. Today, after his procedure, Nathaniel's weight, breathing and temper have all improved remarkably.

"My experience at SickKids was so nice, the doctors and nurses were so very nice to me," said Nickelia, "Thank you Herbie Fund, without you my son would not be alive today."