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2-year-old with heart defect fighting to live as long as possible

Young AJ's family is enjoying his last days by creating memories.

SAN ANTONIO — Two-year old AJ was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. According to his mother, Tiffany Garay, "essentially (it means) his left ventricle didn't form completely, so he has only one pumping chamber."

He's been through a lot for how young he is. 

"He had four open-heart surgeries, five other non-cardiac related surgeries, he has undergone multiple rounds of CPR, he's coded multiple times," Garay said. 

After close to a full year at Texas Children's Hospital, AJ finally made it home in October of 2017 and seemed to be making leaps and bounds of progress. 

"Around May of this year we started noticing some signs of heart failure in him and we went ahead and were able to get to his Make-A-Wish trip," Garay said. "And then as soon as we got back, he got really sick again."

His last chance to survive was a heart transplant. But his body was already too sick. 

"We are just at home enjoying him and trying to make our last memories with him," said his father, Nicholas Garay. "When he's gone, we are going to mourn. It is going to be hard. But right now we are just trying to enjoy every day and do what we can while he is still here with us."

Now AJ's parents and and five siblings are making as many good memories as they can while AJ is still with them. 

"His first outing was to the Renaissance Festival in Houston," AJ's mother said. "We've taken him to Austin and stayed at a cabin. We went to all the Disney parks."

And with more plans in the works, several people in the heart community got together and set up a GoFundMe for him. 

"Our goal is to take him and see as many places and different things as we can, because we still very much believe that, even in his last days, it's about quality of life," Tiffany Garay said. 

AJ may be short on time but he isn't short on love. 

"What I love about AJ is where we can take him places and he enjoys it," said his youngest sister, Vanessa. 

"I really like AJ's personality and he has a really great attitude, and whenever he likes or dislikes something he will really let you know and I find it really funny," added his oldest sister, Alyssa. 

We asked his oldest brother, Dominick, how much he loved AJ. His response: "3000!" alluding to the recent Marvel film, "Avengers: Endgame." 

His father told us, "We are going to keep on loving him while he is still here and when he's gone we won't stop loving him."

Complete strangers tell the family AJ has helped them through the "Advocating for AJ" Facebook page.

"Knowing that having a child we are going to lose at this young of age, that he's made such an impact, more so than we have, is a truly humbling and amazing thing," Tiffany Garay said. 

You can check out AJ's GoFundMe page here. 


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