Today, Brodie is a strong, active 5-year-old little boy. He loves playing games and reading books. He plays with his doctor kit and tool set and loves spending time with his family. We are very happy now, but things were not always this easy.
During Brodie’s 2-month wellness visit, the doctors detected a heart murmur and decided to send him for a cardio workup that same day. After his X-ray, EKG, and Echocardiogram, the doctors told us something we were not prepared for; Brodie was born with a congenital heart defect called an aortopulmonary window. This happens when there is a hole connecting the aorta and pulmonary vessels and can lead to pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. They told us it is a very rare condition only occurring in 0.1% of all congenital heart defects. It was determined that Brodie needed to have open-heart surgery.
We were sent to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. There, they told us we should put off surgery as long as possible because Brodie needed to be bigger and stronger to undergo this surgery. We immediately wanted a second opinion, and got a referral to see Dr. Jacqueline Maiers out of Riley. Even on the emergency list, we had to wait an entire week to see her.
We saw Dr. Maiers on a Friday afternoon, on a Friday and the cardiovascular surgical office contacted us that following Monday. The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, the very next day! It all happened very fast, but we are so grateful. The doctor’s at Riley told us that we could not wait to do the surgery and that Brodie was in very good hands. Brodie’s surgeon was Dr. Mark Turrentine. We were relieved when he told us that the procedure went well. We were out of the hospital only 6 days after his surgery.
The level of care Brodie was given on the medical side of Riley was incredible and we are beyond thankful for all the medical staff because they truly did save his life. I feel that it is equally important to mention that not only was my son given the highest level of care, but also from a family they gave us the support we needed. While we were there, we were offered a room in the Ronald McDonald house and were able to go down to Ronald McDonald in the hospital for meals. During Brodie’s surgery, a nurse would come every hour to update us on the procedural progress, which was very reassuring as a parent. I think one of the greatest things about Riley was that we got the chance to talk to other parents who were facing similar or even more severe situations.
The experience was very emotional and overwhelming for our family, but it was very positive. The inspiration we got from other families and the entire Riley staff helped us tremendously during that time. Our experiences at Riley have helped shape our life to make sure that Brodie grows up as strong and healthy as possible. He, of course, does have to follow-up every year with his cardiologist to make sure everything is okay as he grows, but he is healthy now and we will never be able to express our gratitude for that.