Monday, February 10, 2014

The Longest Night and Brightest Morning

On Saturday night Max received his heart transplant. This kid is an incredible little fighter and at only one week old, he already inspires me so much with his strength and determination.

Plus he's freaking adorable.
Everything started yesterday while we waited for news of when the transplant would get started. As Jon mentioned in the last post, Max was being a little uncooperative at first. One of his stats got very low and he needed to be put under some sedation to take the pressure off his system. External stimulation was, they think, a contributing factor to the low stat so we had to close off Max from visitors and while Jon and I were able to stay in the room, we weren't allowed to touch him which was extremely difficult for us. Fortunately, the sedation worked in taking pressure off his system and his stats all evened out to safe levels.

Max, however, can be kind of a stinker. He fights like crazy against sedation and always tries to keep at least one eye open. It's to the point where it's become a running joke with the nurses about how much Max resists sleeping.

That evening, our nurse came in to prep Max for his surgery. She let us help get him ready and I wiped him down with the pre-surgical anti-bacterial wipes and changed his diaper.

Max was nice enough to not pee on me.
She also let me help change out his swaddle blanket and when we were done, she folded down the front ledge of his crib and let us each get in there to hug Max.

Then there was nothing left but to sign the last couple consent forms for the surgery and wait to send Max off to get his new heart. We spoke to the anesthesiologist and one of the surgeons who gave us a rundown of what would take place in the surgery. They asked if we had any questions and after reviewing the last few details, it was time for Max to go. The anesthesiologist cleared the room so we could have a minute with him.

Then they took him. It was the single most difficult thing Jon and I have ever experienced, watching our tiny son being taken away for his heart transplant.

After that, there was nothing to do but wait. We managed to each take a shower and we tried to nap but mostly we just waited. We received an update partway through letting us know that things were going well and they expected to be done in a few hours. Then towards the end, our cardiologist (who had come in on his day off for Max) came in and told us that everything was going well. The new heart was connected and pumping without any leaks or any significant problems and they were just ironing out a few issues like heart rate, blood pressure, and clotting and they'd be done in a couple hours.

Finally, after what felt like forever, our nurse came and told us it was time for us to go to the waiting room so they could bring Max in and get him set up. We sat out there for about half an hour and during that time, the anesthesiologist and the surgeon came to talk to us about the surgery. They reiterated that everything had gone well and then we were finally able to go back to the room and see our little tough guy.

He likes when you put a hand on his head so one of the nurses
set up the giraffe so Max can have that constant, comforting pressure.
Plus it's adorable.
So far, everything has been an overwhelming success. He's been really stable all day with his new heart and his meds and everything is looking really good. I think Jon phrased it best when he said "we won't be out of the woods for about 48 hours, and then we will only be in the normal woods and not the thick overgrown woods that we are in now. One hurdle down, many more to go, but the biggest one is behind us."

We'll keep everyone updated as we go forward with our Mighty Max :-)

A Note of Thanks . . .

Jon and I also want to thank everyone that has been following Max's journey and has offered up prayers and positive thoughts for him. Many of you stayed up with us last night during Max's surgery and although we weren't physically together, we felt your love and solidarity and it made a very scary night easier for us. I really believe that the outpouring of love and support for Max is a big reason why everything went and continues to go so well for him. Jon and I are overwhelmed and humbled by the support and hope that you'll continue to keep our little fighter of a son in your thoughts and prayers during his recovery.

Although they're not reading this, we also want to thank the heart donor and their family. It won't be possible for us to get information about the donor for at least six months, if ever, but we are so grateful. With Max's diagnosis, we very easily could have been on the other side of an organ donation and we are so thankful for what we have been gifted. Words fail to adequately express our gratitude.


  1. So very happy for you, Jon and Max. Sending more healing love and support from my heart to all of yours.

    Stephanie Birdwell

  2. I am Glen Vannest's niece, Alberta Boss. I just want to say thank you for the post. Also, to let you know our Sunday School Class is praying for Max and for you. God bless and continue to hold you in His arms.