The family of one brave Australian toddler is awaiting life-or-death news this week, anticipating his doctors’ decision about whether or not to perform a third open-heart surgery on the three-and-a-half-year-old boy. Diagnosed prenatally with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), Samson Farkas’ parents were offered an abortion and refused.
During her third pregnancy, Renee McIntosh of Queensland, Australia, received news that no mother wants to hear. With three boys (including a set of twins) at home, McIntosh learned in 2017 that her fourth child, also a son, had HLHS. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, HLHS is a life-threatening and rare birth defect that “affects normal blood flow through the heart.” About one in every 5,000 children is born with HLHS. While severity can vary, McIntosh’s baby essentially had half of a functioning heart.
McIntosh recalled in a Daily Mail Australia interview that she was encouraged multiple times to have an abortion, even though she was already 23 weeks pregnant. A late second-trimester abortion lasts multiple days and present significant health risks for the mother.
“Doctors told me to terminate, but something at the back of my mind told me that this kid wanted to be here,” she explained.
Samson was born via emergency cesarean section after McIntosh went into labor prematurely at just 31 weeks gestation. She told the Epoch Times, “Samson was born blue and needed to be resuscitated and put on life support. I wasn’t able to see my little boy until over 32 hours after I had given birth; he was too unstable.” McIntosh and partner Jason Farkas were asked by hospital staff if they wanted to place tiny Samson in a home hospice to “love him for as long as he survives.”
Samson had other plans. Despite developing an infection at just two weeks of age, requiring life support for his first two months of life, and needing resuscitation after an anesthetic reaction during a cardiac catheterization and again after his first open-heart surgery, which failed, Samson was finally discharged to go home after 183 days in the hospital.
At 18 months old, he had a second open-heart surgery. In all, Samson has clinically died nine separate times, and today he lives on 60 percent oxygen saturation, while the average healthy person functions with levels between 97 and 99%. Naturally, such low levels mean that Samson tires quite easily, and can play for just a few minutes at a time before needing to rest. Yet, he looks in many ways like any other child his age. McIntosh told the Epoch Times that Samson is very close to his brothers, and loves trains, the moon, the beach, and playing doctor, and has consistently outperformed the dire predictions made by medical staff.
“Through all his battles and daily struggles, he still manages to smile,” said McIntosh. “He is walking and talking. He has a team of great therapists.”
Devastatingly, the little boy’s lifespan is unknown. Samson needs a third open-heart surgery, and his anxious family is choosing to hold onto hope while waiting to hear whether he receives the go-ahead from his various medical teams.
“He could live another 20 years or it could all end tomorrow,” said McIntosh.”It’s a waiting game…if [the next surgery] doesn’t go ahead, doctors say there’s nothing more they can do.” Samson’s family expects the verdict this week. His family created a Facebook group, Samson’s Crew FNQ, to keep friends and well-wishers updated. McIntosh requested prayers for Samson and the whole family, saying “Just sharing his story and having people pray…is more than enough for us.”
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