When brand-new parents Emma and Stuart Labuschagne realized that their 14-week-old son, Michael, had stopped breathing in the early hours of March 16, 2018, they understandably went into fight-or-flight mode. Paramedics determined that Michael went into cardiac arrest, and later on, the family was told that their son had a condition called cardiac fibroma, a rare type of tumor which blocks the flow of blood to a child's heart.
Doctors put Michael in a medically-induced coma to prevent any further brain damage, and five days later, he woke up and gave his dad a humongous smile that was caught on camera. Now, the photo is going viral. "The first thing he did when he opened his beautiful brown eyes was smile at his daddy," Emma wrote in a Facebook video. She told CNN: "It's a moment I will cherish with every inch of my heart. To be really honest, it's got to be the happiest moment of my life. He is a living miracle, and we have never felt prouder of him."
While Michael's reaction to seeing his dad certainly gave his parents hope, the infant has a long road to recovery ahead of him. Michael currently has an internal defibrillator and pacemaker to support his heart and is given medication four times per day, but the tumor in his chest is roughly five centimeters wide, considerably large for a baby. After first assessing Michael, Emma and Stuart were told that no doctor in the UK could operate on him and they'd have to seek treatment out of the country or find a heart transplant.
After doing some research, the pair discovered that Michael could undergo surgery at Boston Children's Hospital via the Cardiac Tumor Program, which has a 100 percent success rate going back ten years.
"It did not matter what the cost was. We would pay any amount of money to save our child's life."
"When we received a response from Boston confirming that he would be a good candidate for surgery, it did not matter what the cost was. We researched the hospital and specifically the cardiac surgeons, Dr. (Pedro) del Nido and Dr. (Tal) Geva," explained Emma. "They have a 100 percent success rate and an exceptional reputation. From this moment we knew that we had to try and make this journey."
Recently, the hospital confirmed that they could, in fact, perform the surgery on Michael for $147,000, which doesn't include travel or any additional expenses. Determined to give Michael a healthy start, the Labuschagnes will stop at nothing to get the procedure done. "When we received a response from Boston confirming that he would be a good candidate for surgery, it did not matter what the cost was," said Emma. "We would pay any amount of money to save our child's life."
To offset costs, Emma and Stuart launched a GoFundMe, which has already surpassed its 120,000 pound goal. "We have had well-wishers and donations from all over the world!" she explained. "We are unbelievably thankful!"