Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) is the number one birth defect worldwide. Nearly twice as many children pass away from CHDs in the United States each year than from all forms of childhood cancers combined. The emotional--and financial--strain CHD places on families is immeasurable.
This is Branson's story.
In July 2013, first time parents Nicole and Brandon Holsey reported for their 20 week anatomy scan, anxious to find out the gender of their baby. In addition to learning they were having a son, they also learned that Baby Branson had a very complex cardiac anatomy which would require a series of surgeries.
Three days later, they found themselves in the office of a local pediatric cardiologist, where they were told that they were carrying a "single ventricle child", informally referred to as a “million dollar baby”, because by the age three or four, he will receive approximately a million dollars in healthcare.
Not satisfied, they traveled to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a second opinion where they received a new diagnosis of Heterotaxy (abnormal placement of chest and abdominal organs).
The Holseys' next stop was Boston Children’s Hospital, where Nicole explains that she had what she calls “the wedding dress feeling”--that gut feeling when you know it is right. At 37 weeks pregnant, the couple temporarily moved into a small bed and breakfast a few miles from the hospital. At 40 weeks pregnant, the Holseys and their clinical team opted for an induction, bringing Baby Branson into the world.
Nicole shares, "Although I felt solid with our decision in our choice of hospital and clinical team, there was still so much left to be determined. What specific interventions would our son require? How long would we be here in this hospital? Where would we stay long-term? How would we ever afford this? Fortunately for us, the hospital had a wonderful accomodation for families. For $20 a day, at the Yawkey Family Inn, we had a place to store our things, shower, launder our clothes and lay our heads. The hospital was also great in that it offered me, a nursing mother, free meals. So, the many hours that I spent at the bedside praying, pumping and planning our next step, also included many greatly appreciated meal tickets."
Branson underwent his first of three open heart surgeries six days into life. He recovered beautifully, minus a hiccup or two, and was discharged nine days later. His second surgery took place at 5 ½ months and his third at 2 ½ years old, all of which incurred great logistical planning. Nicole says, "I am fortunate that I work for the State of Maryland and have a wonderful leave package and amazing health benefits. My absence and all of our medical bills were completely covered-- a blessing of incredible magnitude! Additionally, the old adage 'it takes a village to raise a child' was felt first-hand, as it was through fundraisers, friends/family prayers,and monetary donations that we made it through those journeys back and forth to Boston."
The Holseys credit the research and innovation of institutions such as Boston Children’s Hospital and Johns Hopkins for giving their son the opportunity to thrive.
Nicole explains, "While he will be monitored his entire life for his complex cardiac anatomy, he has such a high quality of life due to his surgeries, his brilliant clinical team, and the ongoing advancement in medical interventions. I’m thankful to say that he is now a brilliant and active seven year old boy who continues to grow and live a beautiful life. What is possible for cardiac patients today was not a thought to be fathomed 35-40 years ago."
This CHD Awareness Week (February 7-14), Krueger Hat Trick Foundation will be sponsoring six heart patients at University of Maryland Children's Hospital, providing them EACH with $500 worth of support, including hospital parking fees, hotel expenses, food costs, and more.
Additionally, we will be delivering yet another batch of Comfort Kits, which provide helpful items for Heart Families such as blankets, toiletries, stuffed animals, coloring books, slippers, and cell phone chargers.
This is where we need your help; no donation is too small. Visit our website to make a difference.