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Baby with a broken heart: Living with CHD

7:05 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - For every 1,000 babies born, two or three of them will have some form of congenital heart disease. When Joey Wiseman was born, only half of his heart was working properly. 

Simply reaching his first birthday in January was a huge milestone for his family. 

"I was actually thinking that I was going to say goodbye to him," Joey's mother Marissa Young said. 

Twelve hours after he was born on Jan. 11, 2013, he turned blue. 

"All of a sudden, 'something is wrong with your baby, we're transporting him,'" Young recalls the doctors telling her. "We had no idea what was going on."

Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Pei-Ni Jone at Children's Hospital Colorado, diagnosed Joey with pulmonary atresia VSD.

Half of Joey's heart wasn't functioning properly, and blood was only getting pumped into one lung.

Each day, there are small signs of progress from the one-year-old boy who once didn't eat and could barely breathe. Other days, there are setbacks.

"With pulmonary atresia that means the pulmonary valve is not there, so any blood going into the right ventricle cannot pump out into the pulmonary arteries, which go to the lungs to get oxygen," Dr. Jone said.

Joey's first heart surgery was just a week after birth. He spent five more weeks in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital Colorado, followed by another surgery.

"That was really hard because he had an IV in his head. He had IVs all over his body. They had him hooked up to every machine possible it seemed like," Young said.


Although he's home now, home is busy with visits from therapists and nurses. Complications from his heart surgeries mean Joey still has to learn how to eat, speak and walk properly. 

Dr. Jone says there is a varied spectrum of CHD in infants. Some require only one surgery and have a very positive prognosis. Others will need more care throughout their lives. 

"Down the road five to ten years, he'll continue to have these procedures because as long as his pulmonary arteries do not grow, that will be the problem," Dr. Jone said. "But, I think he's actually done quite well from his operation."  

Congenital Heart Disease Awareness week is Feb. 7 through Feb. 14. Young urges expectant mothers to get their unborn children tested before being caught off-guard at birth. 

"Prenatally, mothers can have a fetal echocardiogram, and we can look at the baby's heart to make sure there's no defect," Dr. Jone said. 

In the meantime, Young says she and her husband live each day to the fullest with their CHD baby and three-year-old daughter.

"Every milestone is a big milestone for a CHD family," Young said.


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