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Surgery Day

Today is the day that Faith finally gets her heart repaired. Nell and I are actually a lot more relaxed now then we were last night and this morning. It was kind of fun getting her ready in Pre-Op. They have little hospital gowns for babies. She went back in the OR for anesthesia around 8:30. Now we will spend the rest of the day in the waiting room. It probably won’t be until 5 or 6 tonight that we will finally be able to see her. After that they will keep her sedated for another 48 hours to make sure that everything is working properly.

Yesterday we spent 5 hours around the hospital getting her registered and her testing done. Basically Nell and I got an honorary medical degree from all the information we received. The process for today’s surgery is amazing. The first step in the process after anesthesia is to perform another echocardiogram. This one will be done internally. They will run a tube into her stomach and look to see if they need to correct the coarctation in her aorta. They don’t want to fix the aorta if they don’t have to; it adds more complexity to the surgery. The tube will remain in her stomach for the entire procedure. That is what they use to monitor how well the patches are in place.

Even though they are going to double check the aorta, they are going in with the expectation of fixing it. Once the decision is made to fix the aorta or not, they will begin opening her up. The aorta will be the first part fixed. For that, they will actually take her completely off bypass and ice her body down to cool her body temperature about in half. For about 20 minutes there will be no blood flow to her entire body. They can do this for up to 40 minutes before causing any neurological damage. When they fix a coarctation, they actually cut out the narrowed section and pull it back together and stitch it up. At her age things are very elastic so they don’t have to put anything in to fill the gap. Once the repair is completed they will put her back on bypass and warm her back up.

Next they will start working on the inside of her heart. They will start by placing a Gore-Tex patch between right and left ventricle. Because the ventricles are high-pressure chambers they need a patch that is stronger than any of her other tissue. The patch between the right and left atriums will be made of her own muscle tissue. The lower patch is the most critical. For that patch they have to stitch around the AV Node. If the AV Node is damaged, Faith will always be on a pacemaker. Chances of that happening are less than 1%.

The last part of the procedure is to reconstruct one of her valves. Right now it is as if the valve is made up of three leaflets instead of two. They will stitch two of them together. After that they will wait an hour or so to make sure there is no internal bleeding before closing her up completely. They will bring her up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unite (PICU) for recovery. It usually takes 1.5 – 2 hours to get her all set up there before we can see her. When we do get to see here, there will be a lot of tubes and wires. We’ll see what they all look like around 6 pm.

Nell and I really appreciate all of your prayers. We will continue to keep you all posted as we receive updates throughout the day.

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  1. Janet DeLong
    September 4th, 2009 at 02:00 | #1

    Nell and Matt, Maryclaire and Dean,
    Maryclaire suggested getting to this site. I appreciate that. I had thought the surgery was 9/1 and so I emailed last evening because I had not heard. Now I will follow through this site.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Love, Janet and Gary

  2. MattyT
    September 5th, 2009 at 02:01 | #2

    Thank you for following along. You can also send me a friend request through facebook and follow along that way as well.

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