Many of our readers will have been following Calum Morris’s journey on the British Heart Foundation’s social media pages. Calum, aged 12 and studying at Bradley Stoke Community School, has recently been recognised as a Young Heart Hero in the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero Awards 2018. Last year, whilst still in Year 6 at Wheatfield Primary School, Calum was told by doctors he needed to undergo his fourth major heart operation. It was at this point that Calum made the decision to share his story with the world, giving the British Heart Foundation an opportunity to follow his experiences as he went through a life-changing procedure.
Calum approached the BHF prior to his surgery in order to raise awareness about congenital heart disease and the impact it has on people’s lives. We talked to Calum’s mum, Nicola Morris, about the ‘vlogs’ (video blogs) Calum has so bravely shared through the British Heart Foundation’s YouTube channel. “It was his own idea to share his journey through these videos to let people know what it is like having a special heart,” Nicola told the Bradley Stoke Journal.
The British Heart Foundation has published five videos that mark significant points in Calum’s journey. Calum introduces himself and his family in the first video, and talks about his condition, truncus arteriosus. Subsequent films include the consultation with Calum’s surgeon, the pre-admission clinic, the operation day and Calum’s recovery process. The videos received a huge response from followers of the British Heart Foundation and led to Calum receiving three nominations for being a Young Heart Hero. Calum talks openly about his condition, which was discovered after his birth when doctors informed Nicola that “major components” of her son’s heart were missing. The main arteries had not divided properly and an artificial tube had to be inserted within the first 2 weeks of Calum’s birth. As the tube does not grow with Calum, he has required further operations at ages 4, 6, and 11.
Calum has now started secondary school at BSCS. His mum told us that both his primary school and secondary school have been very supportive through everything Calum has been through. Calum had wanted to play football after recovery, but another unrelated condition affecting his hip has meant that he is still not allowed to do this. Instead of dwelling on this, Calum has got involved with a disability sport called boccia (a precision ball sport, similar to bocce, and related to bowls and pétanque). Calum is one of the youngest to participate in this, and Nicola said: “I’m proud of him for starting this new sport.” Nicola also mentioned that her son has a good group of friends at school as well as a helpful student support team. On the day of our interview, Nicola told us that Calum was due for a CT scan in the afternoon, as he would need a further procedure due to some narrowing of blood vessels. The family hopes that the procedure can be done through keyhole surgery which is less invasive than the open heart operations Calum has had in the past.
Calum currently has check-ups every six months at Bristol Children’s Hospital. The University of Bristol offers psychological support to Calum and to the wider family through counselling services, helping to deal with the emotional and mental impact of what the family has to face before, during and after each procedure.
In addition to receiving the Young Heart Hero award, Calum was a runner-up for the Young Heroes award in the Bradley Stoke community’s own Stars of the Stokes event. The Morris family has connections with other families across the South West that deal with similar challenges through social media groups like Heart Families South West. Calum has an older sister and younger brother who have been involved in many of his vlogs on YouTube. Nicola said, “Sometimes Calum does wish he didn’t have to go through any of this, but at the same time, he is proud of his special heart and everything he has achieved with it.”
If you would like to know more about Calum and watch his journey on YouTube, please visit https://youtu.be/DK-th8rKUjk
Photos: 1 Calum on a climbing wall − despite his heart condition, Calum is able to take part in many physical activities. 2 Calum (front, right) with his family at the British Heart Foundation’s Heart Heroes Awards presentation evening held at the Globe Theatre, London. 3 A still from one of Calum’s videos.
This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 30 & 31). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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