Thursday, August 16, 2012

Extra Life 2012

This year I will be embarking on a journey that I have made before, but this time around it will hold more meaning than anything I have ever put even an ounce of effort towards. As a lot of you know I take part in an annual charity event called Extra Life that raises money for children's hospitals across the country. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the event, participants sign up and play video games for 24 hours and wonderful people make donations in their name to cheer them on. In the past I have done this simply because I thought it was a good cause and it is a hobby I enjoy. This year my reasons are much much different.

In December of last year, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world, a beautiful baby boy named Lucas. Like most new parents we were simultaneously overwhelmed and overjoyed to start this new chapter in our lives. Two days after he was born, as we were getting ready to take him home, Lucas' pediatrician heard a heart murmur and had him transferred to Akron Children's Hospital.

By the end of the day we had learned that Lucas was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return, a very serious, and if not corrected, fatal heart problem. He was scheduled for open-heart surgery on the following Monday and the surgeons gave him a pretty good chance, so all we could do was wait and hope.

The following night Lucas' condition became much worse and he started to decline pretty rapidly. The decision was made that his surgery couldn't wait and he would have to go in the morning, which happened to be Christmas Eve. Things started happening very quickly and our only option was still just to wait and hope.

The doctors told us that due to his condition getting worse his chances of making it through the surgery were about 50/50, but they still seemed optimistic. As they wheeled him off to surgery we kissed him goodbye and went out into the surgery waiting room for a long day.

Before too long we were getting updates from the operating room that things were going well. Every update brought more good news and more relief. Finally the surgeon came out and told us that everything had gone well, and now we would just have to focus on getting better.

I can't put into words how great of a Christmas present it was to get that kind of news after such a trying time. Lucas still had a long road ahead of him to recover, one that included a second open-heart surgery to fix a complication that arose due to his TAPVR, as well as a tracheotomy and a ventilator to help his lungs recover while his heart caught back up. After just 10 days shy of four months, we finally got to take Lucas home from the hospital.

The entire time we were at the hospital the doctors, surgeons, and nurses worked tirelessly on helping Lucas get better. They honestly cared about his well-being as well as ours. The caliber of people they have working there is beyond any other place I've ever known.

One of the things that got me through the beginnings of our tough time was Extra Life. I took some small solace in knowing that I had helped the place that was helping my child. I knew I couldn't fix him, but in some small way I helped facilitate those who could.

So the reason I will be doing Extra Life this year is really simple. Inside of those hospitals are people who give children a second chance at life. I cannot honestly think of a more noble pursuit than that.

If you would like to help me say thank you to the people who helped us and gave our son a second chance at life, and help them continue what they do, please visit my donation page here and make a donation. Also I would greatly appreciate it if you passed this story along to friends, family, and co-workers.

Thank you for reading,
Dave Paskiet

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