Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meeting with the Surgeon

Seth was very alert this morning. We were excited because he has been very sleepy since we got to PCH.

We just had our meeting with the surgeon (did you know you can get from our house to PCH in 33 minutes even during traffic time?), and we feel really good about it.

Seth will be the second "coarc" operation of the day tomorrow, and the first begins at 9 am. The operation takes 2-3 hours from prep to post-op if things go as expected, so Seth's surgery will occur around midday. The surgeon told us the operation takes only about 20 minutes of those 2-3 hours. The rest is preparation and post operative treatment.

According to the doctor, Seth has the same risk of fatality during the surgery "that you have when you have an operation at the dentist." He's performed this surgery hundreds of times and is the head of cardiac surgery here.

The operation goes as follows: They make in incision on his left side that goes around to his back and spread his ribs. Then they move aside the lung and a large nerve that leads to the vocal chord. (Seth is likely to be hoarse for several days). The surgeon then clamps off the aorta and makes a cut above and below the coarctation. He removes both the narrowed portion of the aorta and the vessel that is used to pump blood before birth-- it is not needed and shrivels during the first week after birth, which may contribute to further narrowing. Then he sutures the two ends together and closes the incision.

One of my questions was what happens to the body while the aorta is closed. He described it the same as what happens to traffic when the freeway is closed. There are plenty of other less-convenient routes that can be taken, and for the short term no damage is done. If the aorta is closed off for more than an hour, paralysis becomes a possibility. He also said he's never gone over 30 minutes on this operation.

Recovery time is entirely dependent on Seth. He'll have a drainage tube to drain fluids because as tissue is severed cells can't drain into the blood stream as they normally do. Drainage can be near non-existent or last as long as 4-5 days. Seth will also be on a feeding tube for awhile after surgery, but he will receive mom's milk through the tube.

Happiest of all, when ask about dietary or physical restrictions, the surgeon said, "You should treat this child exactly as you've treated your other children. This should not be a life-altering problem." It sure feels life-altering for me, though!


Seth loves when his dad sing songs to him.

We just love this little guy.


  1. Natalie, you look so much better today! I am so glad you seem to have the best surgeon available for Seth's operation! Hopefully it goes perfect and Seth recovers quick.

  2. Seriously, Natalie, you look like a teenager just having your first baby. Seth's head is so round and cute! One of the c-section perks, right?

  3. First of all, Seth is absolutely adorable! I love all of the cute pictures you have posted! We have been praying for all of you since we heard about Seth being transferred up to Primary Children's. We will continue to pray that everything goes well with Seth's surgery and recovery.

  4. Brenda gave all of us the link to this post. So I hope you don't mind me commenting.

    Hearing about your brand new little guy made me choke up. What a difficult thing this must be for your family and yourself. Your little primary guys in our house are very concerned. They both said a prayer this morning.

    May the surgery be swift and successful. May little Seth be watched over. And may you and your little family move through this difficult time without incident.

    The Ingrams send their love!

  5. What a beautiful baby! Just found out this morning about all that you're going through. We love you and are praying for you. It sounds like you are in the best hands possible which must be reassuring! Natalie I just adore you- you truly are super woman. Hang in there and before you know it, you'll all be home safe and sound.


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