In December, Cody Halfpenny and his older brother, Tyler, visited their grandparents in Arizona for a week.
There, they rode ATVs, swam in the pool and enjoyed just hanging out together.
Back home in Abbotsford, Cody attended Grade 8 at Chief Dan George Middle School and was a typical 13-year-old boy who loved video games, skateboarding, watching movies and hanging out with his friends.
He was a “little bit goofy at times,” says his aunt Bree Sorley.
Last week, he was supposed to go on a trip to Quebec with the French immersion program at his school.
Things are different now.
Cody is in intensive care at BC Children’s Hospital, following unforeseen complications after urgent heart surgery on March 19.
He is confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk or walk, and is on a ventilator to keep his lungs from collapsing.
Cody has a heart assist device, called an HVAD, implanted in his chest. Wires from his stomach are connected to the HVAD controller and must always carry a battery pack or have access to an electrical outlet.
Since March 19, Cody has had nine open-heart surgeries, four cardiac arrests and numerous strokes.
His parents, Elena and Corey, have said goodbye to him once, believing he was nearing the end, but Cody continues to fight, and his family remains hopeful.
“He’s trying. He’s got a long, long way to go,” said Sorley, speaking Tuesday on behalf of the family.
Cody was born with a series of heart problems that resulted in several surgeries when he was a baby, but he had been fine until this year.
His annual checkup in January revealed that he urgently needed a new heart valve, and the surgery was scheduled.
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.
The subsequent weeks have been grueling for the family.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking for them … Their family is just completely traumatized,” Sorley said.
Elena, a nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, can no longer work as she remains by Cody’s side full time in Vancouver, sleeping at Ronald McDonald House.
Her sick leave and vacation time are used up.
Meanwhile, Corey, a heavy-duty equipment operator with the City of Coquitlam, has remained in Abbotsford with the couple’s older son, Tyler, 15.
Corey and Tyler visit Cody on weekends.
Elena’s co-workers have set up a trust fund to help the family with expenses. Donations may be made at TD Canada to branch 9052 and account 6011539.
Also assisting with the family’s expenses are sales of $5 silicone bracelets that say “Love and Support for Cody.” They may be purchased through the above email.
A Facebook page to follow Cody’s progress has been set up at facebook.com/LoveSupportGroupForCodyHalfpenny.