Full of heart
and Trina Kleist
Seven months ago, Malone Cameron couldn’t speak English and couldn’t run. The 8-year-old immigrant from China, adopted by Nevada City resident Lynn Cameron, was born with a heart defect that caused poor circulation and prevented him from any strenuous physical activity.
But the outgoing boy was all smiles Thursday as he chattered easily at a Valentine’s Day party, raced with classmates at Nevada City Elementary School and peered through television cameras that had come up with a crew from KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento to film his achievement.
Cameron had open heart surgery on Jan. 22 to repair the heart defect that had kept his energy bundled inside. He has healed so well that his surgeon gave him permission to run – but he had to wait until Thursday.
Teacher Kass Weston and class helpers arranged a Valentine’s Day party for the children to enjoy as they celebrated Malone’s big day. His classmates cheered and shared in the fun and he romped with the camera crew.
For mom Lynn Cameron, the day was “a miracle.”
Malone was born with only one of two ventricles in his heart and a condition called transposition of the great arteries. Instead of pumping blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen, his plumbing was reversed, pumping oxygen-less blood into his body.
At age 3, surgeons in China repaired some of the defects, Cameron said. But when she met Malone in July 2007, the small boy’s lips and fingers were blue, she said.
January’s six-hour surgery rerouted more plumbing so the blood from the lower two-thirds of Malone’s body pours directly into his lungs. The only remaining attachment between the two organs allows the lungs to send oxygenated blood into his heart.
“The only function of his heart at this point is to push blood out to his body,” Cameron said.
To be able to run had been Malone’s dream, his mom said.
“When he was recovering from the surgery and they took the breathing tube out of his mouth, the first thing he said was, ‘Why is you guys so mean to me?'” Cameron joked. “The second thing was, ‘Dr. Raff, when can I run?'”
Late Thursday, the family gathered at a friend’s house to watch the news segment about Malone.
“He loved being on TV,” Cameron said. But she added, “Nothing’s more thrilling to him than the fact that he got to run today.”
Cameron, a longtime Nevada County resident and single parent, has adopted three other children from China, all girls. Three of the four children have special needs; Malone is the oldest of the siblings, family friend Krista Bernasconi said. Cameron also has four grown sons of her own.
She also is director of Placer Children’s Receiving Home in Auburn, where she’s a licensed clinical social worker, Bernasconi said. The county facility offers a temporary shelter for children who have been removed from their homes.
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