On March 24th, 2016 Brayden had his first visit to the pediatrician. The doctor mentioned hearing a slight heart murmer, but that it was not too abnormal for newborns (It would likely go away within the first few weeks of life). On March 25th, Brayden was having a hard time breathing. I took Brayden back to his pediatrician where we saw a different doctor than the day prior. I was told what I was seeing was known as periodic breathing and fairly normal. I asked if she had heard the heart murmer that the previous doctor had. She listened again and told me that if he seems worse over the weekend to get him scheduled for an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart). Brayden was only 6 days old and it was Easter weekend. This crazy first time mama was not having it! I asked her to see if she could get an echo done anywhere that day and she did!
Twenty minutes later we arrived at CHOP at Virtua where we were greated by a fabulous nurse. She took Brayden's vitals and immediately stated "please do not feed your baby! He is breathing way too quickly and is at risk for aspiration" I started panicing - if I took my baby home, he could have died. After what felt like a million hours, we finally had some answers - Brayden was diagnosed with a large Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD - a hole in the wall that separates the lower chambers of the heart) and a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO - a flap-like opening between the upper chambers of the heart that does not close after birth).
A newborn's heart is the size of a walnut at birth. A small VSD usually measures 3mm or less in diameter. A medium VSD usually measures from 3-6mm in diameter. Large VSDs are greater than 6mm in diameter and typically require intervention.
In June of 2016 I was contacted by CHOP's scheduling department to have Brayden placed on the surgical schedule. He was scheduled to have open heart surgery on August 22nd, 2016. Luckily, on August 10th, 2016, during a pre-op appointment, I was told he had a huge growth spurt which allowed us to cancel the surgery for the time being, but he will likely always be a "wait and see" type case.
After participating in our first heart event at the Phillies game in June of 2016 and our first Congenital Heart Walk in June of 2017, I pledged to make the heart walk an annual tradition. My hope every year is to give back to an organization that's research benefited my son and additionally to celebrate Brayden and his accomplishments.
Please join us at the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday, May 9th, 2020 in honor of Brayden. All participants will be provided with a "Brayden's Bunch" T-Shirt the morning of the walk. **Please note: we have been informed that all individuals over the age of 2 are responsible to donate/raise $12.00 to cover your entry into the zoo.**
If you are unable to participate in the walk, we ask that you consider making a tax-deductible donation to our team also using the provided link. All contributions are greatly appreciated and no amount is too small!
Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.