Family ask for prayers as Bradford teenager prepares for open heart surgery tomorrow


Bradford’s 13-year-old to have two surgeries tomorrow at Sick Kids

A family in Bradford ask for prayers as 13-year-old Alexa Flamenco goes to Sick Kids Hospital tomorrow for open heart surgery.

Alexa is in grade 8 at St. Angela Merici Catholic Elementary School. Over the summer, she was diagnosed with a rare heart disease that affects only 0.2% of the population.

From the day she was born Alexa has faced many health issues. She was born hard of hearing in her left ear and must wear a hearing aid. When she was six, she had throat surgery, which put her in intensive care for four days after having difficulty swallowing. She was also diagnosed with epilepsy, but luckily she recently recovered.

But over the past three years, Alexa has had difficulty swallowing and breathing, often choking on her food. Her mother, Ashley Flamenco, originally believed she was linked to the throat surgery she had as a child and requested an appointment with a specialist.

“It was really difficult for me to go in to see a specialist because of the pandemic,” Ashley explained.

Finally, after doing numerous tests over the summer, the family were relieved to get answers about Alexa’s mysterious symptoms, although not the ones they hoped for. Alexa was diagnosed with a heart disease called Right Subclavian Aberrant Artery (ARSA).

The artery in her heart is deformed but was not detected because only 20% of people with the disease show symptoms. Her airways were cut, making her choke and swallow badly, which is why she now needs surgery.

Tomorrow, Alexa will actually have two surgeries. One with the ENT doctor, to see if they can help correct the hearing in his left ear.

“It will never hear 100%, but until they open it they won’t know if they can fix it,” Ashley said.

The second will be open heart surgery.

Recovery from both surgeries will take about a month. If all goes well, no further treatment or surgery should be necessary.

The family is naturally anxious for the next day.

“I’m a mess, but I have to be a strong cookie,” said Ashley moved. Bradford Today.

And although it has been a difficult few months dealing with the stress of Alexa’s condition, she appreciated all the support she and her family received from the school community, especially the Grade 8 teacher. ‘Alexa, Mr. Greg Ellis and the principal of Holy Trinity High School. Mr. Bebie.

“He (Ellis) was flawless,” praised an emotional Ashley. “Check that she is going (Alexa), let me cry against him …”

Tomorrow, Mr. Ellis will lead a special prayer with the students before the Alexa surgery at 11 a.m.

“At St. Angela Merici, we will continue to pray and offer our support in any way we can during this stressful time,” said Ellis.

Ashley was touched by the help and compassion she received from a teacher she hasn’t even had the chance to meet in person yet due to COVID restrictions.

“He goes out of his way, which you don’t see people doing. He genuinely cares about his students and that’s something that’s remarkable to me,” Ashley said.

And although Alexa does not (yet) attend Holy Trinity High School, the principal of the school, Mr. Heinrich Bebie, has already spoken with Ashley about the procedure, even offering to buy the family pizza the day before. the operation.

“We want to see Alexa healthy and smiling again so she can bring laughter and joy to everyone around her,” Bebie said.

Alexa will be attending Holy Trinity next year. His older brother graduated from school a few years ago, and his other brother is currently attending school and is in grade 11.

“I just want to recognize them as exceptional, phenomenal teachers and principals who go out of their way for a family,” Ashley said. “I’m honestly overwhelmed by the amount of compassion, love and support (they showed) which is a beautiful thing.”

Tonight Alexa and her family will travel to Toronto to check in at a hotel to relax, have a nice dinner and visit a few attractions before heading to the hospital tomorrow morning.

The Flamenco family is asking the community for prayers ahead of the Alexa procedures tomorrow.


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