Fundraiser Held For 10-Month-Old Heart Attack Survivor

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LAUREN ARNEIL
Lauren Arneil suffered a heart attack when she was five months old. Lauren's family organized a Christmas Eve fundraiser for her care. (Hawksworth Communications) | Handout

A Vancouver restaurant is embracing the Christmas spirit and is trying to help a 10-month-old girl and her family, who have spent many nights in the intensive care unit this year.

Edible Canada, on Granville Island, opened Sunday for a special fundraising dinner for Lauren Arneil, a Burnaby, B.C., girl who had a heart attack when she was five-months-old.

Arneil was diagnosed with a rare heart condition — anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA) — when it landed her in the emergency room earlier this year.

Lauren's parents Amanda and Matt Arneil were playing with the baby girl and taking photos, when they noticed something wasn't right with her.

They rushed her to hospital, where her heart stopped.

"I feel on the floor of the resuscitation room, praying. I was face down on the floor when they were trying to resuscitate her," said Matt.

"I just remember screaming in the hallway: 'This can't be happening, this can't be happening,'" Amanda said.

Lauren survived thanks to a heart bypass machine, and her heart recovered with the help of three surgeries.

"It started actually to beat again, and it was so exciting to see the little blips go across the screen that showed that her heart was just starting to wake up a little bit," said Amanda.

The Arneils were frequent customers of the Vancouver restaurant, which heard about Lauren's emergency and brought bags of food to the ICU for the parents.

"They said: 'Don't worry about it,' and started providing us with meals on the weekends when they were open for breakfast," Amanda said.

As well as the Sunday's fundraising dinner proceeds, the restaurant also donated five per cent of the day's breakfast sales to an education fund for Lauren.

Edible Canada's Eric Pateman said the season is part of the inspiration.

"Christmastime: It's all about giving back, and really being able to do something," Pateman said.

"For us to really do something for a single person, that could change their life of make a huge difference in their life, is important to us," he said.

The family isn't sure what developmental obstacles Lauren's heart attack may lead to, but say they're touched by the restaurant's generosity and Christmas spirit.

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