This young ‘mark maker’ has heart to spare
Kanata’s Zander Zatylny, 10, scores trip to Boston thanks to his volunteer work
Zander Zatylny isn’t one to let a little open-heart surgery slow him down.
The 10-year-old Kanata boy, born with a major heart malformation, has already had three open-heart surgeries at CHEO, the most recent one in November 2018, when a blood vessel in his heart was replaced.
Less than six weeks later, he was back playing goal for the Kanata Blazers and backstopping his atom team to a championship.
“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Zander, a Grade 5 student at St. Anne’s Catholic School, said of his medical condition. “When I get down, I get right back up.”
A champion on the ice, Zander was honoured Saturday night during the Ottawa Senators game for his work off the ice as a CHEO volunteer and fundraiser.
The Air Canada Foundation named him a “mark maker” in the community and awarded him a trip to Boston next March to watch the Senators play the Bruins at TD Garden.
He was in a private box with his family for the announcement, which came as a surprise to Zander.
“I feel so excited,” Zander said Saturday before the game. “I went to the morning skate and (Senators goalie) Craig Anderson gave me his stick with his signature.”
Anderson, Zander said, also gave him some goaltending advice: “He said, ‘Stay on your feet more because you can move and when you’re in your butterfly, it’s hard to move.’”
Zander was born with a rare heart defect called truncus arteriosus, meaning he had only one blood vessel leading from his heart instead of two. The condition develops when a baby’s aorta and pulmonary artery fail to separate completely.
It means the body’s oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood mix, creating a series of critical circulatory problems.
Zander had his first open-heart surgery before he was one-monthold; doctors reconstructed his heart using the jugular vein of a calf to fashion a second artery for him.
He had 10 stents put in place. In November 2018, surgeons took out the stents and replaced the conduit with an adult-sized one. Zander faces more stent procedures, but his family is hoping he’s finished with open-heart surgery.
He has recovered so well from surgery that his next followup appointment is eight months from the previous one, which is a record for Zander.
“It’s a great sign,” said his mother Chrystal Raymond. “When I was
When I was pregnant with him, I was told he’d never play competitive sports, but ... it hasn’t stopped him at all.
pregnant with him, I was told he’d never play competitive sports, but in his 10 years, he’s played competitive hockey, baseball and football. It hasn’t stopped him at all.
“He’s very athletic and he’s very outgoing and it’s never slowed him down.”
Zander said he likes hockey best of all.
“My favourite sport is hockey,” he said. “It’s just … I’ve been playing hockey since I could, basically.”
When he grows up, Zander said, he’d like to be a hockey player and a doctor.
“Because I want to help other kids,” he said. “The doctors helped me and I want to help other kids as well.”