Saturday, December 20, 2008

Alexander Update

A number of friends have asked what's happening lately with Alex, so I thought I would post an update.

We had another baby boy on November 9 at 7:43am. He was 9 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches and we named him Alexander Peter Abler (we call him Alex). He seemed like a perfectly healthly baby boy and we went home a day early from the hospital. After a week of being at home, we took him to the doctor for an eye infection, and the pediatrician noticed him breathing fast (we did too) and he had trouble finding a pulse in his legs. We immediately went to a pediatric cardiologist who at first couldn't find the problem. After doing an echocardiogram, they found some serious heart problems. His left ventricle was not performing optimally, he had a bicuspid aortic valve, an small ASD or PFO, and he had a coarctation of the aorta which basically means the aorta severely narrowed where it exited the heart to supply blood to the body. He needed surgery within 24-48 hours or could have had severe problems with organ failure and cardiac arrest.

Apparently it is normal for this condition to not show itself until a few days after birth, because there is this extra artery that connects from the heart to the aorta that naturally closes a few days after birth (it's only used in utero). In Alex's case, it likely stayed open a few days longer because it was using it as a "bypass" until it naturally closed. This is when problems started occuring on that morning Jen just happened to take him to the doctor. It's just a miracle of the timing of this happening while we were at the doctor, and also we had a sharp pediatrician who picked up on the problem right away.

Surgery for a week old infant's heart is only done at two hositals in the state. We asked our cardologist who he would have operate on his own children, and he recommended Dr. Henry Walters III, who is the chief of cardiovascular surgery at Children's Hospital of the Detroit Medical Center. He has performed more than 50 heart transplants on babies and children which really made Alex's operation seem "routine". The operation entailed entering from the side underneath his arm, collapsing a lung, clamping the atora to stop the blood and cutting out the narrowed portion and sewing it back together. Surgery went extremely well, he was off the breathing matching the next day, and we were discharged from the NICU just 5 days after surgery. He gave his first smile we've seen a few days after surgery. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House which is a fantastic charity that takes care of the parents whose children are in critical care at hostpitals.

Alex has been at home and doing well ever since. Since the surgery, his left ventrical function is back to normal, the aorta is now normal, and we just need to keep an eye on his bicuspid valve which is a very common condition and has no effect on lifespan. He'll require an annual cardiologist checkup, but he should be able to live a normal life. We'll have to wait and see if he can play professional football, but professional baseball or golf are still in play! :-)

Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers throughout the way. I believe it helped. Again, I'm on facebook almost every day so sign up so we can keep in better touch.

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