Spokane baby that had heart surgery in the womb is thriving now
SPOKANE, Wash. — A groundbreaking surgery saved the life of a Spokane baby before he was born.
Parents Ryan Hendershot and Sara Toner knew they’d love baby Tyler. They just didn’t know how much that love would be tested.
Toner was six months pregnant with Tyler when doctors told her he had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It’s a rare form of congenital heart defect that caused the left side of his heart to be under-developed. That prevented his heart from effectively pumping blood to the rest of his body.
Without surgery, he would die.
These new parents turned to doctors at the Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease. The center provides specialized heart care for all ages, from before birth to seniors.
Dr. Sarah Stack told them doctors in Boston could do the surgery on Tyler’s heart while he was still in Toner’s womb.
Just days after they got that news, Toner and Hendershot flew to Boston Children’s Hospital for the surgery.
“There was like 10 doctors behind this sheet and all I could feel was the pressure of all their hands on my stomach,” Toner said.
Toner explained that doctors put a needle through her abdomen and uterus and then into her baby’s chest.
“They took like this tiny balloon and they blew it up in his valve and it opened up his valve. So it let like the blood and stuff through that it wasn’t letting through,” Toner said.
The surgery was a success.
Tyler was born weeks and weeks later with a few complications. His parents were so excited to meet their son.
Having a baby born with a heart defect can be extremely scary, especially when you’re first time parents.
“That’s rough, thinking your kid is going to die before you do,” Hendershot said.
This new family turned to experts at the heart center and to people in a group called Mended Little Hearts. They met other families who went through similar experiences. They got access to education resources, online resources, and a wealth of knowledge from other parents. The organization helped rally support for them when they flew to Boston for surgery, too.
Tyler will rely on Dr. Stack for future care. His parents said he’ll likely have to have another heart surgery before his first birthday, but they don’t have to go anywhere to do that. Doctors are well prepared to handle it in Spokane.
Toner and Hendershot said they’re grateful to have such quality care close to home.
Dr. Stack said part of the hospital’s success comes from their partnership with Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). CMN is a non-profit organization that raises money for children’s hospitals, including Sacred Heart. The organization also raises money for medical research and raises awareness about children’s health issues.
“Our partnership with Children’s Miracle Network lets us care for our families in a better and more comprehensive way,” Stack said.
The combination of medical care and love from the community helped this family get through a very stressful time. Now they’re focused on enjoying life at home with baby Tyler.
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