BURLINGTON, N.C. – Many have not lived through what young Christian Harris has to this date. At a short 7 years old, he's experienced three heart surgeries, a stroke, and multiple other side effects caused by them.
“It wasn’t until day six they said they wanted to listen to his heart, make sure that he could go home,” says Christian’s dad, Wesley Harris. “They heard the heart murmur and that’s when they did the echocardiogram and found out he needed to have his first heart surgery at two weeks old.”
Christian was born in 2010, at the Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, where Harris and his wife Ashlee lived with their oldest children, Diamond, Lawrence and Aaidyn, while he was stationed in the military.
The birth had already had its complications. Harris said Christian spent his first five days in the NICU even before they discovered his heart complications.
He was transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado for his first surgery.
Just six months later, he was getting ready for his second surgery at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City after experts found out he had a single ventricle heart defect.
“The cardiologist that he had in the Children’s Hospital in Colorado had to do a teleconference to try to figure out what was going on,” Harris said. “He shared the information and the findings and everything with other cardiologists in the country.”
But it was not what they found that worried them, it was what they didn’t.
“They said that out of all the ways that a heart could be put together, he wasn’t in a textbook,” Harris added.
As he grew up, Christian’s parents worried about his future and wondered if he would ever be a “normal kid.”
Fast-forward two heart re-routing surgeries, a stroke that caused right-sided paralysis, urinary problems, a spina bifida diagnosis, and a baby brother, Gregory, being born, Christian is now in the second grade.
His mom, Ashlee, says that he is not up to par with the rest of his classmates because of the amount of time he spends in therapy, three to four times a week, at UNC Hospitals.
“He gets speech twice a week, physical therapy twice a week, occupational therapy once a week,” Harris said.
Besides it all, Christian’s parents are in fact happy to see him grow up as a normal, happy kid.
“We’re like, “okay, well he’s gone through all this stuff, you know, Christian can do anything!”” the dad tells us. “It’s just another thing that’s not gonna stop him.”
They believe Christian’s journey has a purpose and that many can learn from the things the 7-year-old has endured, including his seven siblings.
“I think Christian can be an inspiration to a lot of people,” Harris said. “They [his siblings] look at him more as a role-model, you know, to be tough, he’s a tough kid.”