DeKALB – Most certainly, few people have gotten better news in the wee hours of the morning.
The Canaday family, from DeKalb, got a phone call just before 2 a.m. Wednesday letting them know that against long odds, a heart transplant match was found for 17-year-old Christopher Canaday. The DeKalb High School senior was born with pulmonary atresia, a rare defect that prevents the pulmonary valve from working properly and regulating blood flow.
About 6 p.m. Wednesday, Christopher Canaday’s lifelong fight reached a crucial juncture, when he went under the knife at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, according to close family friend Ali Henry, who’s with the Canadays the hospital. The surgery wrapped up about 5:20 this morning, and Henry said about 8:30 that she, Christopher’s mother, Amy, and his brothers, Brandon, 21, and Chad, 19, will get to see him very shortly.
“The doctors said he did very well,” Henry said via text message. “Amy and the boys have been incredibly strong. Christopher is a complicated case, so nerves were definitely there.”
Christopher Canaday has undergone numerous open-heart surgeries and more than 50 procedures over the years, but in the past year, the state of his heart reached the point where he simply needed a transplant to survive. He has been waiting for his match for nearly five months – from someone who was not only the same blood type, but also the same height and weight. Legally, the hospital can't disclose from where or whom the transplant came.
Mark Canaday, the father of the family and a former assistant housing director at Northern Illinois University, died in June 2017 after a three-plus-year battle with esophageal cancer.
That was 21 years after Mark and Amy Canaday lost their baby girl to pulmonary atresia in 1996. They were told there was only a sliver of a chance they'd have another child with the condition, but Christopher was born with it.
Bad luck? It can be overcome by sheer grit, and faith.
“It will be a long, crucial road of recovery ahead, but one that will be so rewarding,” Henry said.