Tovin’s story

A story about adoption, love and a heart made whole

When Jason and Jennifer Kainz adopted a little boy from China, they knew he needed not just a family — but also medical care.

Tovin with parents“We went into the special-needs-adoption program,” Jennifer said. “Jason and I strongly believe that every child deserves a chance at life. Everyone has something medically wrong with them, but our medical conditions don’t define us.”

What the Kainz family didn’t know was that Tovin’s heart condition was worse than expected. After arriving in the U.S., one of Tovin’s first stops was meeting Dr. Rodrigo Rios at Children’s Heart Clinic. There, tests revealed that Tovin’s heart was on the right (incorrect) side of his body, had L-transposition of the great vessels; pulmonary atresia; a ventricular septal defect; nonconfluent pulmonary arteries and a right aortic arch.

His oxygen level was alarmingly low. And his skin was blue. He’d been living with life-threatening heart conditions his whole life but his spirit didn’t seem to be affected. “He’s a kid with such a tremendous personality that you just fall in love with him immediately,” says Dr. Rios.

Tovin with Dr. RiosTovin underwent his first surgery soon after arriving in the U.S. and quickly showed signs of major improvement. A year later, he had his second surgery and was back home recovering just a few days later. Doctors expect that Tovin will need another surgery when he’s older to fully repair his heart.

For now, he’s an active, energetic, typical eight-year-old. “Tovin loves to be adventurous, farm with his uncle and grandpa and play with his tractors, Legos and trains,” Jennifer said. “He takes full advantage of living in rural Minnesota. He’s always on the go.”

Jason carrying a young Tovin
Tovin with his new family in China
Tovin smiling in a hospital bed after surgery
Tovin walking with the family dog
Tovin smiling with a toy
Tovin smiling in a superhero costume
Tovin laughing on a swing
Tovin with his family, all smiling

Since Tovin arrived in Minnesota, he has come a long way. When he was adopted, his development was delayed. Tovin wasn’t able to crawl, walk or verbally communicate with his family, Jennifer said. He took his first assisted steps at Children’s after his first heart surgery, and he has made huge strides since with the help of physical and occupational therapy. Thanks to speech therapy, he has a full vocabulary today.

“We have so much respect for every staff member we’ve worked with at Children’s and are very thankful for the love that each team member has given to Tovin,” Jennifer said.

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