Tucker Levi Hamilton was born at 8:35 am on 9/9/09. We had 24 amazing hours of normalcy, when our angel, the lactation consultant, noticed he was breathing too fast. The doctors in McKinney decided we needed to go to Plano, and within an hour of arriving in Plano, we were on our way to Medical City Children's Hospital.
That Thursday was undoubtedly the scariest and most overwhelming day of our lives. We were told that he would've died if any piece of that day's events had taken any longer, so we know that God's hand was present in the sequence of that day's events.
Officially, Tucker has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). HLHS babies have a very small aorta and little to no left heart ventricle when they are born. The solution to HLHS is to have a series of operations over the course of the first few years of life. He had the first procedure when he was 12 days old. During this Norwood procedure, they expanded his aorta and began the process of re-routing the blood flow through his heart and to his body. The 2nd procedure was performed on March 16, 2010, and is called the Bidirectional Glenn Procedure. During this procedure, they disconnected the superior vena cava from the right atrium of the heart and connected it directly into the pulmonary arteries. The 3rd surgery will be at about 3 years of age and is called the Fontan Procedure. All of the surgeries are fully invasive, fully open-heart procedures that require heart/lung bypass and multiple hours.
When all of the procedures are complete, his heart will really only be two chambers. The right atrium will not really function to pump blood; the left atrium will receive blood from the lungs and transfer it to the right ventricle. The right ventricle will function to pump the oxygenated blood to the body. All returning blood from the body will not enter the heart at all, but will be pushed around by the blood pressure and eventually make its way directly to the lungs.
This is a very rare, very serious condition. Only 4 out of every 10,000 live births have HLHS. Each surgery carries great risk as well. The survival rates that correspond to the surgeries are 80% survival rate after the 1st surgery, 100% after the 2nd surgery, and 95% after the third surgery. It's very comforting to know that we apparently have the best surgeon around. Dr. Eric Mendeloff and the staff at Medical City Children's Hospital have been great to us, and we are also blessed to have the most incredible cardiologist, Dr. Tim Thomas.
Dr. Mendeloff and Dr. Thomas said that kids with this defect, that have all the surgeries and do well, can live an absolutely normal life. The problem is that they have only been performing this set of procedures since 1981, so the oldest surviving kids are in their late 20s. There is no indication that there will be any long-term complications, but they just aren't sure yet.
Tucker is now 3 years old and is doing as great as a child with HLHS can do at this point in his treatment! He is growing and developing well and normally for his age. Except for the scar on his chest, you probably wouldn't know anything had ever happened to him.