L’ARDOISE: By all accounts, Kyden Stevens had the time of his life.
The five-year-old and his family took a late-winter trip down south that saw the Richmond County residents visit Universal Studios, Disney World and SeaWorld, rub elbows with Mickey Mouse, have lots of laughs, and generally be treated like royalty for a full week.
Kyden also had a chance to hang out with some Marvel superheroes.
“He had a great 45 minute meet-and-greet with superheroes at Universal Studios,” said Brad Stevens, Kyden’s father. “That was pretty cool because since Christmas he’s been fascinated with superheroes.
“He’s got a big interest in Iron Man, so to meet Captain America and Spiderman was pretty cool. At the end of it, they were calling him Iron Man.”
Brad and Kyden weren’t alone on the trip. With them were Kyden’s mom Cherese, his sister Temeka, and his maternal grandparents Ambrose and Bernadette Sampson. The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada greenlit Kyden for a wish several years ago.
“We met Mickey Mouse, and he was good,” Kyden told The Reporter. “Iron Man and the Hulk weren’t there, but a big whale splashed me. And I liked it!”
Of all ambassadors the Maritimes could send to meet the Marvel superheroes, few could teach Captain America and company a lesson on how to be brave better than Kyden.
Indeed, in dealing with Kyden’s medical troubles, all members of his family showed extreme bravery during a very difficult time.
“When he was born, everything seemed to be fine, but they detected a heart mummer and took him to the IWK,” Brad said. “They informed us that he had a hole in his heart that needed to be repaired. They did that on May 1 of 2014, they also told us that he had a mitral valve that would have to be repaired by the age of seven.
“Unfortunately, just after his first birthday, he had to be taken in for emergency surgery on the mitral valve. It was January of 2015 when he was flown to the IWK.
“He was given a 20 per cent chance to make it off the table. Seven-and-a-half hours later, he had a mechanical valve in his heart.”
The valve will have to be replaced down the line, as Kyden will eventually outgrow its size.
However, although the surgery was a success, Kyden’s issues were just beginning. During the surgery, the IV went interstitial – which is a case of the IV medication leaking into tissue surrounding the insertion point. The leakage took place over the length of the surgery, and as a result, doctors initially thought Kyden’s left arm might need to be amputated.
Eventually, the doctors said amputation wasn’t needed, but there was yet another terrible break waiting for the Stevens.
“Two days later, while taking out a breathing tube, Kyden suffered a massive stroke,” Brad said. “It took him two-and-a-half years to take his first steps over again. He was on a feeding tube to eat, and they had no idea if he’d be able to walk again or talk.”
After a huge amount of physiotherapy and speech therapy, Kyden’s about 85 to 95 per cent recovered from the stroke, Brad said.
“He gave us a good scare, but he’s a fighter,” Brad said. “He’s the toughest kid I know.”
Becoming a candidate for the Children’s Wish Foundation – and then being approved to receive a wish – was not difficult. After what Kyden went through, a nurse suggested that he’d be a good fit for Children’s Wish. Paperwork was filled out, and an IWK doctor endorsed the request without hesitation.
The approval from Children’s Wish came through about four years ago, but the Stevens held off on a trip until the little guy was feeling stronger. On April 2, the Stevens drove down to Florida for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. They arrived back April 15.
“It took us three days down and three days to come home, and we were in Florida for a total of seven days,” Brad said. “It was three 15-hour days in the car, and I had a five-year-old who didn’t complain once. All he wanted to do was get down to meet Mickey Mouse.
“Even driving down was great. You’re with your family all day, and your looking forward to your stop at night. You get to see some different parts of the country.
“The whole experience was cool.”
Once in Florida, the Stevens stayed at Give Kids the World Village – the spot where all Wish Kids and their families stay. The village is so packed with characters, rides and attractions that going to Disney is almost not necessary, said Brad.
However, the visit to Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld made for some great times.
“The treatment he got at the parks was incredible,” Brad said. “He got what’s called a genie pass. None of us had to wait to go on a ride or meet characters. Universal went out of their way to take care of us.
“It was nice for the six of us to get away and not have to worry about anything for a week. It was great. They treated him like a king and the whole family too.”