“They think I’m fragile. I tell them I’m perfect. Just as fine as them,” he said.
Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Dallas Stars, a 10-year-old hockey fanatic had the day of his life on Wednesday, and promises that on his way to becoming a “professional hockey-playing heart surgeon” that he will remember this day forever.
Anderson McDuffie’s life got off to a pretty rough start. At birth, his parents knew he was born with a serious heart problem. The diagnosis was Tetrology of Fallot, which means he had four different heart abnormalities including a hole between chambers and enlarged heart muscle. His first open heart surgery happened when he was just four months old, March 18, 2009.
He did recover, but considered too fragile for strenuous physical activity, his doctors told him and his parents that contact sports were out of the question. “It’s…loneliness,” Anderson said when asked to describe what it was like not being able to be the loud, rambunctious, “normal” little boy he wanted to be.
And then last year, nearing his 10th birthday, a life-and-death tune-up of sorts. Doctors had to stop his heart all over again, repair a heart valve this time.
In all this struggle, in all these surgeries and visits to the doctor, he had one very specific reason to get better. “Hockey is, it gives him life,” his mom, Loan McDuffie said.