THE TESTIMONY OF KATHLEEN CORCORAN
(As published in the Teach Mhuire Newsletter, JUNE/JULY 2010)
A VALENTINES HEART – The Story of Aaron by Kathleen Corcoran
Kathleen Corcoran is a member of the Teach Mhuire Prayer Community. Her brother’s Grandson Aaron is 12 years of age. Just a few days after he was born he underwent major heart surgery where a block was found in the main vein entering his heart. The operation was a temporary measure however, when he needed further treatment when he was 18 months old, but this wouldn’t be a permanent solution for his heart.
He went to school like any 5 year old and was a very happy and fun loving child; he loved life and school and played football with his classmates. But when he was 10 years old Aaron underwent open heart surgery because of a problem caused by a membrane which had grown around the left valve of his heart. As it grew, it put increased pressure on the valve and reduced the blood flow and surgery involved cutting away the membrane. Aaron made a remarkable recovery after the operation and returned to school in September and doctors were happy with his recovery.
Teach Mhuire Prayer Community were praying for him at meetings and via texts at this time. When he was told about all the people praying for him together, he said “now I will get better” and he never gave up hope. In fact, he was a tower of strength and the one consoling his family when he saw them upset.
6 weeks later in mid-December 2008, Aaron started feeling unwell again and was treated first for various suspected ailments but he failed to improve. Once again he was admitted to hospital and the doctors discovered that, now, the left side of his heart had collapsed and as a result put too much pressure on the right side of his heart which could also eventually collapse.
There was no other answer. Aaron needed an urgent heart transplant so it was arranged for it to take place in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Immediately, arangements were made to transfer Aaron to travel to London to be on hand for the operation. On the evening of the pending transfer to London and one hour before the helicopter was due to arrive to take him to London, Aaron was being prepared for the journey when the right side of his heart collapsed. Soon after, his other organs started collapsing and he rapidly became very ill- too ill to travel. He was only 3 or 4 hours from death at this stage. In order to keep him alive he had to be connected to an ECMO Machine which performed the functions of the heart and all his other organs that had collapsed.
From the moment he went on the ECMO machine he was sedated 24 hours a day. But the doctors told Aaron’s family that 28 days was the maximum length of time a patient can be treated by an ECMO machine so they had to find a suitable heart within that time. However, they got great comfort at this time because Teach Mhuire were all praying for a happy outcome.
Now Aaron was placed on the top of the heart transplant list in Ireland, the UK and parts of Europe. After more than 3 weeks and lots of prayers, a heart became available in Ireland. It was found to be suitable but at the last moments, they discovered it was too big for his 11 year old chest. So the search was on again with very few days left. Miraculously on the 28th day on the machine, a second heart became available, also in Ireland. This heart proved to be a complete match. Aaron was taken to theatre and prepared for the operation. At 8pm on 13th February the operation was started and the medical team emerged at 3am the next morning- Valentines Day 2009, to tell the family the operation had been a complete success. That was the first and to this day, the only heart transplant to take place in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. The surgeon said it was the miracle of prayer that brought them the second heart, only a few days apart and also that it arrived on the 28th day, the deadline, not to mention the fact that both hearts bacame available in Ireland seeing as Aaron was not able to go to London.
Aaron has made a marvellous recovery since the transplant. His new heart performed excellently from the beginning and continues to do so. He overcame each setback and is now in good health one year after his operation.
He returned to school a few weeks before Christmas and received his Confirmation in February of this year. After all his ordeals and set backs Aaron is a very happy boy and full of fun. He is very upbeat about the future. He used to say he wanted to be a solicitor when he grew up. Now he says he has to be a surgeon to help people like himself, who was helped to get a new life. He had faith all the way through his illness. “His faith is as big as the tree grown from the mustard seed. He is forever grateful for all the prayers and for the gift of his new life and for his new Valentines heart,”, says Kathleen. He realises that without all the prayers that he would not be alive today. The chief surgeon said prayer had a lot to do with the success of the operation.
There were times when it was hard for Aaron’s family to accept what was happening, then they remembered the rosary of prayers were being said and they felt a great peace. Kathleen says that Aaron’s miraculous story proved that “MIRACLES DO HAPPEN” .