Liam Haysom doesn’t think about it much anymore, but four years ago, the Coquitlam boy’s journey to the Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games was nearly disrupted.
When he was 10 years old, Haysom was already climbing the ranks in competitive soccer when he came home from school one day complaining of chest pains. A trip to the doctor and an X-ray revealed that his heart wasn’t formed properly. Haysom only had one coronary artery supplying his heart with blood, and needed surgery to move the other artery.
Open-heart surgery wasn’t going to slow him down, however. Haysom was back on the pitch about a week or two after the procedure, and back playing soccer about a month or two after that. He admits it was “tiring” at first.
“Right when I got out of the hospital, I barely could walk,” he recalled on Friday after his Fraser River (Zone 4) team defeated Vancouver Coastal in a round-robin game at Duncan’s McAdam Park.
Six weeks after he got out of the hospital, Haysom completed the Grouse Grind alongside a soccer teammate, his surgeon, surgical staff, and other patients as part of a fundraiser for the BC Children’s Hospital heart lab.
Haysom’s father, Brad, made the trip to Vancouver Island to watch his son go for gold in the Summer Games. He admits that he still thinks about Liam’s condition, whether Liam does or not.
“Some of that never leaves you,” Brad said. “When he collides with somebody and goes down, the first thing you think is, is it his heart? You don’t think about a broken leg or anything.”
Doctors told the Haysom family that they were fortunate to discover the condition when they did.
“When you see an athlete drop dead on the field or the ice, that’s usually what they had,” Brad said. “That’s what they told us.”
Liam, who also competes in basketball and rugby, and used to wrestle, is hoping to play soccer one day at a higher level — something like the EA Sports BC Premier League. But right now, he’s soaking up the BC Summer Games experience.
“It’s so good,” he said with a grin. “It’s probably going to be one of my best memories.”