Success Stories

Who is Herbie helping?

Jared Presillas, Philippines

Meet Our Hero: Jared Presillas, Philippines

Child’s condition: Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV)
Age: 2 (July 9, 2011)
Nationality: Filipino (Phillipines)
Treated: June 2011 through the Herbie Fund

When 2-year-old Jared Presillas returned to the Philippines in July 2011, his family could finally begin “a new chapter in their lives,” according to his father, Gino. Only a few short months earlier, Gino and his wife, Maricel, would have to consciously stop themselves from thinking about Jared’s future since there was so much uncertainty about how much longer he would live.

Maricel gave birth to Jared on July 9, 2009, in a small community hospital in the southern Philippines. The day after he was born, Jared was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart defect called Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV). He required emergency surgery to survive. The operation was performed at the closest major hospital in Manilla, a 1.5 hour flight away. Jared continued to have follow up appointments in Manilla for the next year. Over time, it was determined that his only hope for long term survival was an open-heart surgery, too complex for doctors to perform locally.

It was then his parents decided to take matters into their own hands. They began seeking help outside the Philippines by applying to Children’s Hospitals in major cities across the world. Three months later, their prayers were answered. Jared was accepted by the Herbie Fund to be treated by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada.

“It was an amazing moment knowing that people you’ve never met care for your kids,” says Gino. “We were so anxious to go, we immediately purchased winter clothes and shoes to prepare for the cold weather.”

These clothes didn’t end up getting much use as their flight arrived in April 2011.

When they arrived in Toronto, Gino, Maricel and Jared stayed with a relative for a few weeks and then moved SickKids to stay at Ronald MacDonald House.

While awaiting Jared’s surgery date, the family had the opportunity to participate in Herbie Day at the Hospital, an annual fundraising event to support the Herbie Fund. There they were able to talk to other families from around the world that benefitted from the fund.

“There was a great sense of camaraderie knowing that we were all there for the same reason. All of our children had been blessed.”

A few weeks later on June 15, 2011, Dr. Glen Van Arsdel performed an 8-hour open heart surgery on Jared. His parents remained glued to their seats in the waiting room for the duration of that time, worried they might miss something if they left to pray or get a coffee.

Being able to see Jared’s pink toes after surgery for the first time was a defining moment for Gino as he realized how far Jared had come since leaving the Philippines.

Jared had his last clinic appointment in July 2011. He returned to the Philippines to eager family and friends on July 23, 2011. Gino and Maricel were most looking forward to being able to sleep under the same roof as an entire family, including Jared’s older sister, Gabby. They also hoped to take Jared to the beach and teach him how to swim – activities many families might take for granted.

“Our experience with Jared gave us a new respect for life. It taught us not to be petty and to live every day for our kids.”