Nathan was just barely a year old when CFOH flew him to Boston for heart surgery, but his family is used to long journeys. His mother grew up in the midst of a civil war in Burma and eventually fled to a refugee camp in Thailand. She started attending church services in the local village, where she met her future husband. They were intent to make a better life for themselves and decided to come to the United States, settling in Raleigh, NC. Excited to make their new country a true home, the couple started the path to citizenship and started their own family.
Nathan, their first child, was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return that affects the main blood vessels that return oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left atrium of the heart. The condition causes many complications and may eventually lead to death if not surgically corrected. Nathan started receiving care at Duke Children’s Cardiology, but required advanced surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to repair the defect.
In a new country and far from the rest of their family, Nathan’s parents had limited resources. Although they had made it all the way around the world to the United States, getting from Raleigh to Boston with a sick baby felt like an impossible feat.
Luckily, they were referred to Children’s Flight of Hope and qualified for flight assistance. CFOH flew Nathan and his father to Boston, where he received the surgery needed to save his life. CFOH also provided the air transportation to get them back to Raleigh, where Nathan is now thriving as a big brother, and where his parents have realized their dream of becoming American citizens.