Baby needs Band-aid for his heart
Those cheeks! All you want to do is squeeze those round, rosy cheeks, then grab one of the waving, dimpled hands for a quick kisskisskiss.
He wouldn’t mind. He’s such a happy little guy, all sugar and smiles and twinkly eyes. He’s 13 months old, and you’d never know he’s sick until you lifted the hem of his shirt to give his tummy raspberries. Then you’d see the scars.
Jason Gutierrez’s stomach is mapped with them, because he was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), in which parts of the heart’s left side don’t develop completely. In his short life, he’s had multiple surgeries and needs more.
Saturday, his family and friends held a silent auction at Ed Bozarth Chevrolet Buick to help cover expenses when his parents, Mary Kincaid, 23, and Anthony Gutierrez, 22, take him to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., for a unifocalization surgery.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, they will host a car wash at Hooters, 2880 North Ave., to continue the fundraising.
Jason’s next surgery, which will widen blood vessels in his lungs so surgeons can perform two more necessary surgeries on his heart, is scheduled to be done Sept. 13 by Dr. Frank Hanley. “It’s scary,” Kincaid admitted.
Jason is her and Gutierrez’s only child, and they knew before he was born that he was sick. At the 20-week check-up, when they and Crystal Seevers, Gutierrez’s mom, were so excited to learn the baby’s sex, they left in tears. The ultrasound had shown abnormalities in the way his heart pumped. A follow-up echo cardiogram at Children’s Hospital in Denver led doctors to diagnose HLHS.
“They said, ‘He’s safe and he’s good inside you, but once he’s born, then the problems start,’ ” Kincaid said.
He was born via Caesarean section at Children’s Hospital and immediately whisked to the cardiac intensive care unit. Gutierrez got to follow him there, but Kincaid didn’t see him until he was eight hours old. Despite the HLHS, he weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces.
At 5 days old, he had open-heart surgery for a pseudo-aneurysm, and he has had more surgeries since. He was in the hospital for the first three months of his life, Gutierrez said, and has a gastronomy tube and is on oxygen.
And yet “he’s the happiest kid you’ll ever know,” Gutierrez said.
He and Kincaid have had an intense, often traumatic, crash-course in parenting, and there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for their little boy. When doctors in Denver said they couldn’t do the pulmonary surgery, they sought seven second opinions across the country before Hanley said he could do the unifocalization surgery. Hanley will use donor tissue to rebuild an artery in Jason’s lungs.
And Jason’s family and friends will pray and hope and appreciate the miracles so far.