Happiness at last after all the heartache

16:00, Feb 05 2014
John and Becks walters
HAPPY DAY: Hawke’s Bay couple John and Becks Walters pushed ahead with their wedding after delaying it for several years while their children Jack, 2, and Molly, 4, battle heart conditions. EVE BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ

John Walters didn't know what hit him when his daughter was fighting for her life, his newborn son was struggling to breathe and his fiancee was still recovering from a caesarean section.

So it was an especially sweet moment when his bride, flower girl and page boy walked down aisle towards him at the weekend.

Becks and John Walters had been planning their nuptials for five years but life kept throwing them curve balls.

Their children, Molly, 4, and Jack, 2 , both have heart defects. Doctors said it was not a genetic condition, just the cards they were dealt, Becks Walters said.

Molly was born with pulmonary atresia and ebstein's anomaly of the tricuspid valve - one side of the heart is under-developed and struggles to pump blood around her body.

She has had open heart surgery three times, the first when she was just five days old. Becks Walters knew the newborn was a "strong-willed little sausage," when she pulled through.


Molly has also had several cardiac catheter procedures. The Walters lost count at six.

Jack was born days before Molly needed her third surgery. At that stage his heart looked healthy but he was rushed to intensive care with breathing difficulties.

"Every member of my family had an IV line in their hand apart from me," John Walters said.

Things went from bad to worse when Molly went into cardiac arrest and spent five days in a coma.

"That was probably the darkest time," John Walters said.

Molly started improving and took her first steps but then Jack became ill.

Becks Walters kept badgering doctors, believing it was more than a simple case of reflux.

He was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta with a ventricular septal defect, commonly referred to as having a hole in his heart. With different blood pressure in his limbs, he is at risk of having a stroke.

Despite their latest challenge, the Walters thought it was time to finally tie the knot, although this was put in jeopardy when Jack's surgery was delayed.

They pressed ahead and were married in front of friends and family in Hawke's Bay at the weekend.

"It was something for ourselves, about Becks and John . . . not all the hospital visits," Becks Walters said.

"It was about thanking all the people that laughed and cried with us, left us frozen meals or did our washing."

It was the support from these people and the At Heart team that got the couple through the tough times.

Becks Walters likened it to a game of snakes and ladder.

And the game wasn't over, with Jack scheduled to have his first heart surgery next week.

The Dominion Post