Sunday, January 19, 2014

Christopher's Amazing Story

Christopher's orphanage was very worried about him. His first operation to repair his very complicated heart defect in July 2012, when he was seven months old, seemed to be failing. Christopher's color was worse and he was struggling. The orphanage doctor wondered if his shunt, the piece in his heart re-routing blood so that his lungs could oxygenate it and fuel his body, was becoming blocked. She knew that if this was the case, Christopher would not last long. His oxygen saturation was dipping into the low 60s.

After consultation with some well-respected US cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, we told the orphanage that we might be able to help, that there might be hope for Christopher. He arrived at New Day November 1, 2012.

Within a few weeks, Christopher's oxygen saturations had already improved significantly and he was showing stats in the low-to-mid 80s. A check-up showed that Christopher's shunt was functioning well, and that he simply needed to gain weight in preparation for his next heart surgery. 

We rejoiced at the miracle of Christopher's life and recovery, and he remained mostly stable for the next few months, although weak and slow to gain weight.

With a poorly functioning heart, Christopher struggled to gain enough weight to meet the 10kg goal set for him by the doctors. Month after month we weighed him, hoping for a large increase. Each month he only gained fraction of a kilo... and he still had a long way to go.

Finally, in November 2013, the doctors said that he was ready. He wasn't quite big enough, but the heart repair needed to happen sooner rather than later. We consulted with a few different hospitals, trying to get the best surgery plan in place for Christopher's very complicated heart defect, and settled upon his original surgeon, who had the lowest-risk plan to do the 2nd part of a 3-part heart operation, the 3rd of which could be done in the US, hopefully with Christopher's future adoptive family.

November 15th Christopher went into surgery. It should have been a basic operation, but when the surgeon opened him up, it was discovered that Christopher's heart was surrounded with scar tissue. The whole procedure should have taken only five hours, but four hours into the operation the surgeon told us that he was still in the mist of trying to separate the scar tissue. Another complication was Christopher's pulmonary hypertension. It was in the 30's. The doctor told us that if it did not come down to a normal range soon (about 14) then the surgery would have to be called off and Christopher would lose his chance to have a repaired heart.

Heartbroken that Christopher, our vibrant, loving little boy, might not make it out of the surgery room, we prayed, asking for healing, for stabilization and that Christopher's surgeons would have wisdom.

A few hours later we got another call - the surgery was done. It had been completed! After administering some medication, Christopher's levels had dropped to a level that made completing the operation possible. He had received his repair - we rejoiced at the miracle this was. 

Christopher's recovery was not easy, though. We worried many times that he might not make it out of the ICU. But in less than a week after heart surgery, on November 19th, Christopher was released from ICU into the regular ward. Six days later he was released from the hospital, home at last.

The battle wasn't over yet, though. Less than a week after being released from the hospital Christopher developed some concerning post-operative complications and we admitted him back into the hospital November 30th. He was suffering from pneumothorax, a common although very dangerous, post-op issue, and needed to be put on a special diet and have drainage tubes inserted. For a month Christopher healed in the hospital, and finally, December 30th, he was released.

We are so thankful for Christopher, his whole life is an amazing story.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to read that his surgery went well. I loved holding and playing with Christopher when we visited New Day in August 2013. I knew he had a difficult story but had never heard exactly what type of surgery he was needing. So glad to hear this miracle! Virginia