Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Invitation for Fasting: Mending All that is Broken

Knowing that this day would arrive for Abigail has not lessened the impact of its reality for Jesse and Jani.  As their love has increased and as they have watched their sweet daughter's personality emerge, the coming day seems even more difficult.  A firm trust in the will of our Heavenly Father is what calms their own hearts.

Today Abigail is in the hospital in preparation for her second heart surgery tomorrow.  At 3 months of age, her oxygen levels have decreased to levels the doctors did not expect until she was 5 to 6 months old.    Today she is undergoing a X-ray and a few labs in order that her blood will be ready for her when she goes on bypass tomorrow.  Jani and Jesse will also be meeting with the surgeon and the doctors.  It is anticipated that Abigail will be coming home tonight and then admitted into the hospital tomorrow morning for her 7 am surgery.

Friends and family members, we come to you again to feel of your strength, love, and faith during this tremendous trial of faith.  We would invite any of you who feel inclined, to participate in a special day of fasting and prayer tomorrow as Abigail is in the hands of these fine surgeons and in the Hands of the Supreme Surgeon.  {read more about the purpose of fasting here and here} We as a family have experienced many miracles over the past few years, and know that another one can be expected through the great mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In order that I gain a better understanding of Abigail's heart defects and the procedure which Abigail will be undergoing tomorrow, Jani graciously took time to type up a summary of them for me:

"Abigail has many heart defects. Here are the main ones.

L Transposition- heart is backwards
Hypoplastic Left Ventricle- left ventricle is underdeveloped
Tricuspid Atresia- No or underdeveloped tricuspid valve
Pulmonary Atresia-No or underdeveloped pulmonary valve
Dextercardia-the heart is on the wrong side of the body

So the surgery that Abigail is undergoing is the 2nd step to a three surgery process. I am going to write down all three surgeries since that is how it is talked about in the book. Everything is going to be a little different for Abigail since her heart is not only on the wrong side, but is backwards. This explanation listed below isn’t EXACTLY what they are doing, but close to it.

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome occurs in about 1% of all Congenital Heart Disease. 
The left ventricle (LV) is hypoplastic, meaning it is underdeveloped or not functioning. Essentially, the LV is not functional because the valves leading into and out of the LV, the mitral and aortic valves are severely stenosed (tight), or atretic, meaning impassable or not allowing any blood flow. In addition, the main route out of the ventricle, the aorta, is hypoplastic (THE AORTA FOR ABIGAIL IS FINE DUE TO HER’S COMING OUT OF HER RIGHT VENTRICLE, A TRUE MIRACLE). 

Within days or hours after a definitive diagnosis is formed, the baby will go for the first surgery, called a Norwood procedure (THIS WAS DONE WHEN ABIGAIL WAS 4 DAYS OLD). The pulmonary artery is separated from the heart and connected to the small aorta. This enlarges the aorta and allows boh oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to get to the body via the open pulmonary vavle. Additionally, a modified Blalock-Taussig shunt is placed. This Gore-Tex tube is placed between the subclavian artery, the artery that runs under the collar bone, and the pulmonary artery to allow blood flow from the baby’s upper body directly to the lungs, bypassing the heart altogether. From the lungs, blood flows to the heart to be pumped out to the body, carrying oxygen. This allows the baby to grow out of infancy with more oxygenated blood reaching the body. The blood flow through the pulmonary circulation allows the pulmonary arteries to grow better, in preparation for the next surgery, which will be at five to eight months of age (FOR ABIGAIL, 3 MONTHS OF AGE).   

At this time, the Glenn procedure is performed. The Glenn procedure connects the superior vena cava (SVC) to the pulmonary artery, after the BT shunt is separated. This allows even more blood flow through the pulmonary arteries to the lungs. It also serves as a basis for the final surgery, the Fontan procedure. The Fontan procedure takes the blood through the inferior vena cava (IVC), directly to the pulmonary arteries with the SVC blood. All the blood then goes to the lungs for oxygenation before going to the heart for pumping to the body.

This paragraph was taken from a book called “It’s My Heart.” It was given to us at the Hospital."

As I read this paragraph and think about all of the repairs and reroutes that are required to fix little Abigail's heart and body, I am again in awe of the miracle of this body that you and I have, a gift from a loving and omnipotent God.  The intricacies of its functions and the marvel that so many of us are born healthy is incredible.  I also know that every one of us are not whole in so many regards and that the power of the Healer of our hearts and souls can mend all that is broken.  The greatest miracle of all.

To read more about Abigail's journey click here or on the 'Abigail' label in the right hand column.
To see the video "Hands" of Abigail's first days click here.


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