Our Heart Warriors
Evan Dutton was born on September 25, 2008. I was 41 weeks pregnant when the doctors decided it was time to induce labor. I had a perfect pregnancy with no complications so when Evan was born blue and rushed to the NICU, they concluded it was from the difficult labor. After two days of tests and no indications of any problems Evan and I were hours away from being discharged when a nurse thought she heard a heart murmur. The doctor wanted to do a final test before releasing us, it was nothing big he told us, and to come back in a couple hours. When my husband and I walked back into the NICU we could feel everyone looking at us and knew something was not right. The next thing we knew was the doctor was telling us that there was something wrong with our son’s heart and that there was nothing they could do. A helicopter from Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital was already called and on its way.
When the transport team arrived from LLUCH they briefly told us that our son was born with Hypo-Plastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which means the left side of his heart never completely formed and only because of a tiny flap was he still alive. As they rushed him out and we watched the helicopter leave with our son in it, our world changed forever.
The next day we sat down with a team of experts to discuss Evan’s case. They told us three options; transplant- which could be a waiting game and there was no guarantees, compassionate care- which we take him home and love him until the Lord takes him, or the Norwood procedure- 3 separate open heart surgeries that would redirect the blood flow by using the right side of the heart only, which because of how strong he was, THIS was their recommendation. After a split second of discussing with my husband and the doctors, we agreed to go forward with the open-heart surgeries. Dr. Razzouk, the surgeon, prayed with us that the Lord use him, to help our son. When Evan was five days old he had his first open-heart surgery. Nine days after surgery we went home, knowing we would be back all too soon.
Evan’s second surgery was scheduled when he was six months old, and with a blink of an eye we were back at the hospital handing him off to the surgeon once more, not knowing if we were ever going to see his beautiful blue eyes again. Praise the Lord everything went according to plan and only after four days we were going home with our fragile baby again. This time, there were complications. Two days later, we came back to the hospital to find out that there was four ounces of fluid surrounding Evan’s heart. It was putting so much pressure on his tiny heart and lungs they had to admit him immediately to drain the fluid.
This stay was longer, a total of three weeks and another open-heart surgery before the fluid was no longer building up and we could go home once more. This time we got to stay home and in our little sanitary bubble until he was 22 months old.
The final scheduled surgery, the Fontan, was on July 8, 2010, and we were so terrified. Our little warrior Evan had been so strong but the “what-ifs” were tearing us apart. By the grace of God, the Fontan went well and four days later we were on our way home from surgery, for our hopefully last time!
Evan is a wonderful, energetic, onery and stubborn little three-year-old that has changed our lives in so many ways and made us better people because of him. He is our Warrior. Little Warrior Evan!