Little Miracles

Rowan Branches

Oliver Northing

Oliver NorthingOur second child, Oliver was born on November 15th 2002, a full-term 8lb baby. When Oliver was seven days old things started to change. He became sleepy and lethargic during the day and by 1 a.m., he refused to nurse at all and appeared very listless. We took Oliver to John Muir ER at 3a.m., where the nurses and doctors worked with incredible urgency to diagnose why he was finding it so difficult to breathe. His blood work showed that he had a very high level of carbon dioxide in his blood. After consulting with Children's Hospital and further tests at John Muir, we were told that Oliver had two major heart defects (a coarctation or blockage of the aorta and a ventricular septal defect). The coarctation was immediately life threatening for him. He was given medication to prevent his fetal duct from closing further, thereby allowing some oxygen to his lower body and was stabilized.

Oliver was transferred to the ICN at Oakland Children's Hospital immediately to receive the care he needed. As we watched our little seven-day-old baby head off alone in the ambulance, we seriously questioned whether we would ever see him alive again. This is where we met Dr. Avasarala and he was truly wonderful! He spent considerable time providing us with a detailed explanation of Oliver's condition, plans for surgery, and the potential long-term implications of the condition.

When Oliver was 12 days old, he underwent eight hours of open-heart surgery to correct his heart defects. Dr. Hanley performed what he described as a technically challenging surgery, with Dr. Gulati assisting. Dr. Hanley successfully repaired Oliver's coarctation, patched the ventricular septal defect and also a third problem, an atrial septal defect, that was discovered during surgery. Oliver recovered incredibly quickly and was soon on the road to recovery.

Oliver is now three and a half, and is like any other boy of his age. In fact he has more energy and spirit than most. We still visit Dr. Avarasala every six months so that Oliver's heart can be monitored as he grows. Recently, he underwent a catheterization procedure that showed that there is no further surgery or intervention required at this time. This is a fabulous outcome for Oliver and a wonderful gift for us to have such a healthy child.

We are so grateful and thankful for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital for making this possible for our family.

Rowan Branches