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Heart defect
Grayson Ethridge

On Dec. 29, 2012, our world changed as our precious little bundle of joy, Grayson, was born healthy as can be. All my prenatal checkups went great, and all of the postnatal checkups were great as well! We were getting ready to go home a few days later and our world was flipped upside down as our little boy was having respiratory issues and had to be transported by ambulance to Baptist South NICU in Montgomery, Ala.

My husband and father-in-law drove behind while I waited to be discharged early. Before my departure, I received a heartbreaking phone call from the doctor stating that the problem was with my son's heart and that he was being flown to UAB by helicopter. I was scared, confused, and worried as my mother and I drove to Montgomery to see my son before he left for UAB. Heart defects or any heart conditions do not run on either side of my son's family, so this news was shocking to us all. I was able to see my son before he was transported to Birmingham, Ala. for further testing.

Grayson was connected to the ventilator secondary to a medication that causes apnea. The medication was keeping his PDA valve open. The NICU doctor pulled aside my husband and me to inform us of the seriousness of his condition. Grayson's team had to give him a lot of medications to keep his blood pressure in normal range, and the doctor was very worried. After Grayson left for UAB by helicopter, our families made the journey north to Birmingham. This was the longest trip I have ever taken, with not knowing if my child would survive the trip and what would be the outcome.

After arriving at UAB, we were able to go to his room after he was settled. Kyle, my husband, and I finally got to see Grayson in his room. Right behind us were two pediatric cardiologists to perform an echo on Grayson's heart. Fears were soon relieved as the doctors looked at his heart and were able to inform us of the problem. Grayson was born with an interrupted aortic arch, ventricular septum defect, and atrial septum defect.

My husband asked, "Is my son going to live?" The doctors said yes with confidence! The doctors stated that this is a rare, serious congenital heart defect, but they have seen this specific defect and corrected it before with success. We were so relieved as we went to inform our families that were waiting in the family room.

The next day, UAB transferred Grayson over to the CVICU at Children's of Alabama in order to prepare for his open heart surgery and recovery. Over the next few days, Grayson's team of doctors and surgeons reviewed his plan for surgery and recovery. Grayson's surgery occurred on Jan. 3, 2013. The surgeon, Dr. Dabal, was able to go in and correct all three defects with no evidence of a future surgery! Over the next few weeks, Grayson gathered his strength to come off the ventilator and oxygen to start bottle feeding. Grayson is our miracle baby! We were discharged and able to go home on Jan. 20, 2013 from the CCU.
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