Long Island boy born with heart defect defies the odds to play hockey, starts clothing line

Sam Ryan Image
Monday, February 12, 2024
Long Island boy born with heart defect defies the odds to play hockey
Sam Ryan has the story.

NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- February 7th through the 14th marks Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.

Five years ago, Eyewitness News introduced you to Jack Foley, who was born with a congenital heart defect.

The young Long Islander had the chance to meet one of his hockey heroes, then-New York Islander goalie, Robin Lehner.

Jack is now a hockey player himself and has not only defied the odds, but he's also raising awareness and helping other kids.

Stepping on the ice is something the 12-year-old doesn't take for granted. He plays hockey with skill, determination, and with heart.

"Right as I learned to skate, that's when I put on full gear and just started to learn from there," Jack said.

His nickname is "Super Jack" and for good reason. He was born with half a heart. A condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, in which the left side of the heart fails to develop.

Jack had three surgeries before the age of 3.

Dr. Emile Bacha at New York Presbyterian told Eyewitness News about the procedure he performed to essentially reroute Jack's heart.

"We truly re-engineer or redirect the blood flow inside of the heart so that the right ventricle is now that main pumping chamber," Dr. Bacha said.

"He did an amazing job with our son and I'm just so grateful for it," said Lauren Kiefer-Foley, Jack's mother.

Thanks to the procedures performed by Dr. Bacha and the care of his Long Island cardiologist, Dr. Sean Levchuck.

Jack can do what he loves, play hockey.

"They said that I could do hockey and that I could function like a normal kid with a regular heart could be," Jack said.

"They call him 'Super Jack' for a reason. He's amazing, perfect kid," said Rob Foley, Jack's father.

"Listen, I will always worry when he steps out there when he goes to school, but I have to remind myself he is literally a miracle on ice. He is the true definition of a miracle and I am so proud to be his mom," Kiefer-Foley said.

There is even more to be proud of as Jack now wants to help out other pediatric patients with a line of clothing.

A portion of the proceeds goes to the Companions in Courage Foundation, which was founded by former Islander great, Pat LaFontaine.

"The Companions in Courage Foundation is an amazing organization, so I'm just glad that I can give money to them to help other kids who are struggling," Jack said.

"I don't think there's a word to describe how proud, how nice of a kid he is. How he treats everybody," his parents said.

He is "Super Jack!"

If you would like to donate to Jack's cause, you can do so at the Buoy4 Clothing Company website.

ALSO READ | School employees at New Jersey high school save sophomore when his heart stops beating

CeFaan Kim has the story.


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