If Tayler Morgan ends up brokenhearted on Married at First Sight NZ, it won't be the first time – the Christchurch electrician was born with two holes and a faulty valve in his heart, which almost killed him as a newborn.
Speaking to Woman's Day at her New Plymouth home, his mum Annette recalls Tayler going under the knife for a hernia operation at just two weeks old.
"He stopped breathing on his own for 15 minutes as they didn't know he had a heart problem. He nearly died. It was horrendous to see my perfect little baby connected to all the wires, monitors and drips."
After that, Tayler, now 29, was in and out of hospital with chest infections and pneumonia, and at three, he had surgery to fix the holes in his heart. At ages six and 10, he had operations to correct the valve.
"They were tough times for the family and there were a lot of tears," tells university administrator Annette, 57. "I felt so helpless, but I was so lucky to have support from my mum, who always came to the rescue, even though she was also dealing with my dad, who'd had a stroke."
The silver lining was an incredibly tight bond between Tayler, solo mum Annette and his nana, retired farmer Eileen Holt, 80, who became a second mother.
Tayler recalls, "I have some tough memories and it must have been very stressful for them, but they never gave up on me. It's made us very close."
Tayler cried on Annette's shoulder at 13 when he was told his heart condition would prevent him from ever becoming a pilot and again when he was rejected from a job with the air force a few years ago.
He says, "I was in tears. It's something I'm really passionate about and I'm extremely gutted I can't be around aircraft."
However, despite their close bond, it wasn't until three years ago that Tayler opened up to his mother and nana about being gay.
He explains, "I didn't want to stress them out, but I was also worried about being rejected by the people I love. I should have called, but I sent Mum a text because I was scared she'd just hang up."
Fortunately, Annette replied within seconds to assure her son that though she never saw it coming, she still loved him and was proud of him – a feeling that has only increased since Tayler appeared on MAFS.
As Eileen says, "We've always known it, but now he's showing the rest of the country what a lovely young man he is."
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