Our beautiful baby girl, Jordan, was born on April 4th 2003. On Friday, April 8th 2005, our little boy Atticus was born. We were ecstatic; we had our perfect little family. A slight heart murmur had been detected, but we were reassured that 90% of babies have this. We were told to go home and to follow up with a pediatrician on Monday morning, 3 days later. In the wee hours of Monday morning, we took Atticus to the Stollery because his temperature had dropped. The nurse at the admitting desk looked at Atticus, grabbed him and immediately ran yelling "we have a CA". All I remember is trying to keep up with her while turning to my husband and inquiring "What does a CA mean?". Little did we know that our lives would be changed forever.
Unbeknownst to us, Atticus was in cardiac arrest. All of a sudden we were in a room filled with doctors and nurses who were desperately working to save our son's life. And they accomplished it. It is due to their hard work that our little man is here today.
Atticus has Hypo Plastic Left Heart Syndrome. The left side of his heart did not develop, leaving him with only ½ a heart. Due to not being pre-diagnosed, his body experienced major insults. We were advised that his liver, kidney, and brain had been too damaged and that he would not be a candidate for surgery. They were going to give him one week and then advised us that we would more then likely have to go with compassionate care and say our goodbyes. To everyones astonishment, his body made enough of a recovery and his first open heart surgery was done at just 2 week old, his 2nd open heart surgery to follow at 6 months of age. In between the two surgeries, we were treated for liver failure, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and heart failure. After our final discharge from 2nd stage we were able to keep him home for an extended period of time, he was 8 ½ months old.
At 2.5 years of age we brought him back for his 3rd and final open heart surgery. Post surgery, and two weeks stabilizing in PICU he was finally declared strong enough to move to the cardiac ward. We just had to wait for a bed to become available for him. On the 3rd day of waiting, the unthinkable occurred. Atticus got a blood infection. In his compromised condition, he weakened very quickly and had to go back on the breathing machine, being too weak to breath on his own. Within a week he became septic from the infection and the outcome looked dyer. We were informed that they did not think he was going to make it. As a last resort the surgeons came in at 1am on Sunday to put him on ECMO, a heart and lung by-pass machine. We were advised that due to the large amount of blood thinner that is required for this procedure, Atticus would more then likely get a bleed in the brain and we would lose him. They estimated that we only had 10 hours left with him.
To everyone's amazement he stabilized and was able to come off of ECMO the week before Christmas; what a special gift this was. However, Atticus' poor little heart and lungs had taken too many insults and he was not strong enough to come off of the breathing machine. He remained on it until he got his new heart on January 24th 2008, our 120th day in PICU. We were truly blessed. Post transplant we spent an additional month in PICU until he had built up enough strength to breath on his own. We then spent the following month on the cardiac ward, finally being discharged shortly after Easter.
Our brave little man is now 4 years old. He has spent over 1.5 of those years living at the Stollery. We have witnessed first hand the commitment and dedication that the Stollery team provides to its patients. It is because of this outstanding facility that we are able to watch our little Hero grow up. It is due to many generous donations that such an establishment exists. We have had the pleasure of experiencing a Stollery miracle first hand.
Through us sharing Atticus' story may you know how many lives are touched when one life is saved. It is due to your hard work and commitment that such a wonderful organization exists.