Robert Loftin is a young boy always with a smile, even as he faces advanced heart failure.
This 10-year old Hopewell Borough boy is described by family as someone who is caring and loving with a great joy for life.
“He told us one time, he is a professional smiler,” said Andrea Loftin, Robert’s mother.
That joy for life has pushed Robert forward and has kept him from not dwelling on his latest diagnosis.
“He is in need of a pulmonary valve on the right side of his heart and also his left ventricle in his heart is in need of repair because that is in failure. He has two problems,” Loftin said. “Right now there is the issue of not enough valves on the market that are FDA approved for pediatric that will fit him. Doctors are trying to figure out a way forward and they have to rule any other options before they put him on the heart transplant list.”
Robert is home now and is on a lot of medication to help his heart pump, Loftin said.
Even before Robert was born, he has dealt with problems with his heart. When his mother was eight months pregnant it was determined by doctors, through an ultra sound, that he had a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF).
According to the Mayo Clinic, TOF is a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth. The defects effect the structure of the heart and cause oxygen poor-blood to flow out of the heart and to the rest of the body.
“He was pretty severe, but had a repair with heart surgery to close up some holes when he was three-months old. He was premature baby and we were in the hospital for about five weeks after giving birth,” Loftin said. “His open-heart surgery happened when he was three-months and had few complications, but Robert pulled through. We knew in the future with tetralogy that he would need a pulmonary valve, this just came around a lot earlier than expected.”
In June 2019, Robert would go in for his second heart surgery this time at 10 years old, but things did not go as planned and Robert was on the brink of death.
“They tried to place a pulmonary valve and when they took him off the machine he was unable to sustain life, so doctors thought maybe the size was large,” Loftin said. “They took that one out and put a smaller one in and took him off the bypass machine, he was again unable to sustain life, and by that point, the surgery had extended its hours and they had to close him up.”
She said Robert’s body trying to sustain life twice is what damaged the left ventricle of his heart and caused the failure.
However, Robert’s strength and will pushed him through the heavy toll that his body took during the surgery.
Robert is home now and continues to go to Hopewell Elementary School on half days.
“Robert embraces life with more gusto,” Loftin said.
Right now, a go-fund-me page created by Loftin’s sister has raised more than $60,000 to help the Loftin family with hospital expenses.
The Hopewell community has held pop-up bake sales, a community book-sale, a “Run for Robert” event, and a dinner for Robert event.
“It has been overwhelming and amazing the support we have received from the community. I am not one for sharing, because I did not want to put out there or burden people with. This was a different circumstance and we needed the support of our community,” Loftin said. “When you think of small-town America pulling together, this is just unbelievable.”
As Robert Loftin continues his journey, people will still see a young boy with a smile, who is enjoying life. He continues today his love of art, video games and his love for the sport of golf.
“Even in the bad, there is good,” Andrea said.