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Abbotsford teen recovering from strokes needs a new heart

Cody Halfpenny of Abbotsford has come a long way since suffering a series of strokes a year ago following heart surgery, but he is now on the waiting list for a heart transplant.  - Submitted photo
Cody Halfpenny of Abbotsford has come a long way since suffering a series of strokes a year ago following heart surgery, but he is now on the waiting list for a heart transplant.
— image credit: Submitted photo

An Abbotsford teen who suffered a series of strokes after urgent heart surgery last year continues to recover and is now on the waiting list for a transplant.

Elena Halfpenny said her son Cody, 14, has improved significantly in the last year and is now able to talk, walk, and eat on his own, although he still requires some help for tasks such as getting dressed.

“He walks with a bit of a limp and his left hand has been greatly affected by the strokes,” but Cody has come a long way from where he was last March, Elena said.

The teen was born with a series of heart problems that resulted in several surgeries when he was a baby. His annual checkup in January 2013 revealed that he urgently needed a new heart valve, and surgery was scheduled for March 19.

The procedure revealed that Cody’s heart was in worse condition than thought, but the surgery otherwise went well.

Doctors were about to take him back to the intensive care unit when he had his first cardiac arrest.  A series of heart attacks and strokes followed, as well as a total of nine open-heart surgeries. In the weeks and months following, Cody was confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk or walk, and was on a ventilator to keep his lungs from collapsing.

Cody was in the intensive care unit at BC Children’s Hospital until June 24 and then was in Sunny Hill Health Centre until his return home on Dec. 18. He was placed on the transplant list on Oct. 11.

Elena said it has been a long six months.

“I go to bed every night wondering if this will be the night we get the call (for the transplant) but it also weighs heavy on our hearts knowing what has to happen for Cody to receive his gift,” Elena said.

Cody receives therapy six days a week and has been unable to return to school because his heart assist device, which helps his damaged heart function, must be connected to a power source at all times and he requires round-the-clock care.

Cody is no longer in a wheelchair or on a ventilator, and his family and friends are hoping to raise funds to purchase an orthotic device, called the Bioness H200, to improve the function in his hand.

The almost $7,000 device will help Cody with tasks such as tying his shoes and zipping up his jacket, but the cost is not covered by B.C. Medical or the Halfpenny family’s medical benefits.

A garage sale and bottle drive to raise funds is being held on Saturday, May 10 at 8933 Broadway St. in Chilliwack.

Arrangements for the donation of items for the garage sale or for the bottle drive can be made by emailing breesorely@shaw.ca or legs4@shaw.ca.

Family and friends have also been raising money for the Halfpennys – also including dad Corey, a heavy-duty equipment operator, and Cody’s older brother, Tyler – to help ease their financial struggles.

Elena, who is a nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, has been unable to return to work as she cares for Cody.

An online account to raise funds has been set up and can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/kjs68xh.

A Facebook page, “Love & Support Group for Cody Halfpenny,” provides updates on Cody’s progress and promotes organ donor awareness.

 

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