Seven-year-old Evanne Fisher snuggles with her mom Tamara Fisher at the David Foster Foundation office on Henry Street. Evanne had a heart transplant when she was five weeks old.

Making miracles happen

David Foster Foundation fundraising gala begins Friday

Doctors told Tamara Fisher it was a miracle that her daughter, Evanne, diagnosed with a non-functioning heart, was even born on Oct. 2, 2004.

They had also told the single mother that due to her daughter’s rare heart defects, she should terminate her pregnancy when she was four-and-a-half-months along. Later on, after Evanne’s month-old body was struggling to survive experimental heart surgery, the surgeon told Tamara that procedure had been a mistake.

Tamara knew her unborn child’s chance at life hinged on a heart transplant. She turned to the David Foster Foundation, providers of financial assistance for families whose children are in need of life-saving organ transplants. Tamara had the foundation backing her and her choice.

“They take you on as a part of their foundation and family, but they’ve also got the business aspect of it and they’re able to separate the two,” Tamara said. “At your time of need, it’s perfect for you, because you need someone to empathize with you, but also take control of the situation.”

The foundation arranged for Tamara’s travel and accommodations to Toronto where Evanne was treated at the Hospital for Sick Children.

But despite the resources available, her initial surgery left Evanne’s body too weak to receive a heart transplant, should one have become available. When Tamara learned of her daughter’s health status, she sat by Evanne’s bedside and spoke to the heavily medicated infant, IV lines attached to her head and hands.

“I looked at her and said: ‘If you need to let go, let go. I’m sorry.’ I really felt selfish at that point for having her go through all that. To ask her to keep fighting, I felt really selfish.”

Within 24 hours Evanne began to grow stronger and within another 24, Tamara got the call. A donor heart was available.

“You want to be excited because the greatest moment and your dream has come true, but you know that a parent’s worst nightmare has just occurred. You walk down the hallway of critical care and the nurses are congratulating you and they’re smiling and happy, and inside you’re overjoyed, but to be excited seems wrong.”

On Nov. 9 doctors performed a successful heart transplant on Evanne. By the spring of 2005, Tamara and Evanne were able to return home to Greater Victoria.

Tamara gives full credit to the David Foster Foundation for the life that Evanne now enjoys as a healthy Grade 2 student at David Cameron elementary in Colwood.

The national charity, founded 25 years ago in Victoria by 16-time Grammy winner David Foster, continues to help cover the Fisher family travel expenses for follow-up care at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

“There’s no way that as a single mom, I would have been able to take myself from British Columbia to Toronto, while pregnant and support myself for eight months in downtown Toronto. When the doctors said ‘terminate’ that would have had to have been my option.”

The David Foster Foundation is hosting a star-studded “Miracle Weekend” of concerts and fundraising events from May 25 to 27 in support of families like the Fishers. It’s far from the foundation’s humble beginnings hosting celebrity softball games at Royal Athletic Park.

The Miracle Weekend encompasses two concerts, a gala dinner and an auction of high-profile trips and VIP packages to events such as the Grammys, the Indianapolis 500 and Celebrity Fight Night with Muhammad Ali.

Tickets for the Saturday (May 26) Miracle Concert, featuring performances by Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Ruben Studdard, The Canadian Tenors, Kenny G and Sinbad, were available at 250-220-7777 or selectyourtickets.com.

Prices range from $125 to $250. All proceeds go to the David Foster Foundation. For more information see davidfostermiracleconcert.com.

nnorth@saanichnews.com