Written by Ainslie Daley about Heart Kid Samuel Daley
Hi, I would like to share the story of my son Samuel Daley.
He turned 18 a few weeks ago. Samuels story is a little different from others on your page, but it’s a great story! Samuel was born with a bicuspid aortic valve which wasn’t picked up until he was 11 months old and had his first ‘cold’. I took him to the GP who detected a murmur and sent him for an echo. The next few years of Samuels life went without incident, 6-12 monthly visits to Dr Garry Warner, his cardiologist here in Newcastle for an echo and to monitor how the valve was going. We were told from the beginning that Samuel would need surgery to replace his valve at some stage but the older he was the better and ideally wait until he was fully grown if possible. When Samuel was 5 he wanted to start playing footy, so after checking with doctors he was cleared to play. When he was 10 he had developed aortic stenosis, he had to stop all his physical activity and we took him to Westmead for a balloon valvuloplasty. This was successful , but we were always told it was a temporary measure and Samuel resumed his footy soon after. As all parents of kids with heart conditions know, it is a constant thing to have to explain the heart condition, provide doctors letters to allow them to participate in activities that most kids take for granted.
Over the next few years Samuel developed some aortic regurgitation and this was closely monitored but he continued on living a normal life and participating in all activities. The one thing he was not allowed to do was go to the gym to lift weights which was a constant disappointment to him especially as he entered the teenage years and his mates started to attend gyms. He stopped playing footy at 16 and found a love for refereeing. He was accepted into an NRL development academy for refs when he was 16. Around that time his cardiologist felt surgery to replace his valve was getting closer as the regurgitation was worsening. Around the same time he collapsed at training, giving us all a scare and his surgery was scheduled for the 12/6/19 at Westmead Private under the care of Dr Ian Nicholson. He underwent 5 hour open heart surgery to have a Ross Procedure. Samuel was 17 and in year 11 at this time so preparing to study his HSC. It was incredibly stressful. The Ross procedure was a total success, Dr Warner and Dr Nicholson felt this was the best option in a young active otherwise fit and healthy teenager as because they use his own pulmonary valve in the aorta it lasts much longer and doesn’t require anticoagulant medications. Samuel returned to refereeing 8 weeks after his surgery and went on to referee junior and senior grand finals. He has never looked back and in 2 weeks it will be a year since the surgery which changed his life.
There are some photos of the day he returned to referee which was 11th August 2019, one with some NRL refs who visited him in hospital and more.
He is now preparing to sit his HSC amidst a global pandemic but we have told him he can do anything now. He is one tough kid.
- Ainslie Daley