MARIAVILLE — Liam Lewis Semple is a fighter.
The 4-year-old from Mariaville has been battling hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition that affects the development of his heart, and heterotaxy, a rare syndrome that caused an abnormal arrangement of his internal organs, since birth.
His family members are fighters, too.
Parents Gabe Semple and Jamie Brzozowski have been at their son’s bedside throughout multiple surgeries, the first one occurring when Liam was just 2 days old.
“He comes out [of the operating room] smiling,” said Liam’s grandmother, Becky Bunker.
But fighters need help, too. And when the family learned that their home was not suitable for Liam’s health due to numerous issues, including mold, Peter Jordan of Jordan Ridge Builders in Ellsworth stepped up to lend a hand.
Despite Gabe’s employment with Home Depot, he and his family have fallen behind on bills and are struggling with the upkeep of their home amid their son’s medical needs.
The family’s struggles were amplified this September, when Liam entered the Boston Children’s Hospital following a heart valve complication that required an unplanned surgery. He is currently in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“Surgery was touch-and-go, but he made it,” said Jamie, who has been staying in the hospital with Liam while Gabe works and takes care of the couple’s 1-year-old daughter, Maleah. Gabe visits the hospital about every other weekend.
Following the surgery, Gabe and Jamie learned that Liam would need a heart transplant but would first need to regain his strength to become a transplant candidate.
They also began grappling with the fact that their house is not in a suitable condition for Liam, especially following heart transplant surgery.
Bunker, Gabe’s mother, got to work and began Googling local contractors to ask if they could donate materials to help fix the family’s home.
One by one she called down the list. Finally, she reached Peter Jordan.
“He actually listened to me,” Bunker recalled.
Initially, Jordan agreed to donate some materials to help fix the house. But after a heartfelt discussion about Liam’s condition and how the family is struggling, Jordan agreed to assist with fully repairing or building an entirely new home.
“We cried together,” Bunker said. “The man is an angel. I don’t know where he came from, but he was sent from above.”
Jordan reiterated his commitment in an interview with The American earlier this week.
“We need to replace this house,” he explained.
“This little boy is struggling. He needs a place to come [home] that’s decent to live in,” he added.
Jordan explained that he is in the planning stages of the project and is working with Hammond Lumber, Home Depot and other contractors to formulate a plan.
“I’ll give this 150 percent,” Jordan said, noting that he has five children of his own, all of whom are healthy, and he does not want to imagine what the alternative is like.
When Gabe learned that Jordan would help build a new home for his family, “honestly, I was just plum shocked,” he said.
“It takes a village, that’s for sure,” he said. He said his family is living paycheck to paycheck.
Gabe expressed deep gratitude for his village, which includes his employer, Home Depot, which recently purchased a part needed to fix Gabe’s vehicle so he can use it to drive to Boston to visit Liam.
“They’ve been amazing with my schedule,” he added of how the company is understanding when he needs to take time off for his son.
He went on to thank “everybody that’s been helpful and supportive toward my family,” naming his in-laws, Laura and Bill Brzozowski, who have been watching Maleah while he works, and Jamie and Liam are in Boston.
Additionally, Gabe thanked his mother.
“[She] helps in every way that I need help,” he said.
While house plans are underway, Liam pushes on.
Since entering the intensive care unit, the level of fluid that had built up in his lungs has lowered and he can breathe without needing a BiPap machine.
To be a candidate for heart transplant surgery, Liam needs to regain strength in his kidneys and liver, and he will have to have teeth removed for an eventual breathing tube, Jamie explained.
Ever still, the family and Liam continue their fight, accepting prayers and good thoughts along the way.
“Every prayer counts,” Jamie said.
Those who would like to contribute to the family’s new home can donate to the Liam Lewis Semple Benefit Account with the First National Bank.
To learn more, contact Becky Bunker at 479-3602 or visit the Liam Lewis Our Heart Warrior page on Facebook.
To follow in the footsteps of local students who have written cards to Liam to keep his spirit up, send mail to Boston Children’s Hospital, 30 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA, 02115. Attn: Liam B 8 East