Baby endures open-heart surgery at 3 weeks old

 Just three weeks later Locklin endured open-heart surgery to repair his narrowed aorta.

Just three weeks later Locklin endured open-heart surgery to repair his narrowed aorta.

Natassia and Cody Wright’s son, Locklin James Wright, was born October 26, 2015. Prior to his birth, Natassia’s prenatal appointments were normal and her only concern was whether to have a C-section, since her first son was born by C-section. She did end up having the surgery and, when Locklin was born, he weighed a healthy 8 pounds, 15 ounces.

A few hours after his birth he was admitted into the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) due to low blood sugar. His vitals were monitored, and he was fed every three hours to get his blood sugar level back up. Once that was accomplished three days later, Locklin and his mom were released from the hospital.

Natassia says before they were discharged they learned Locklin had a heart murmur, but were told it probably would close after a couple days. They scheduled a follow-up appointment with a pediatric cardiologist for two and a half weeks later to check on the murmur.

“Once we got home I was nervous and wanted to make sure I did everything right for our little guy after all he had been through in the NICU with his blood sugar. I knew feeding him was so important and I had a set schedule to stick to to make sure he got all the nutrition he needed and at the right times,” says Natassia.

The first week went well. He had a good appetite and ate all his food. During the second week, however, Natassia started to see some changes. She noticed that he slept a lot and cried heavily during his feedings. In just days she saw his appetite decline – from drinking two ounces of formula at a time to just half an ounce.

Natassia thought perhaps the formula wasn’t agreeing with him, so she started researching formulas. “I was very concerned because of what we went through at the hospital with his blood sugar and how important it was for him to eat certain amounts at certain times,” says Natassia. “The nights seemed to be the worst.”

Locklin’s recovery progressed without complications.

Locklin’s recovery progressed without complications.

Early November 12, she called to speak to Locklin’s pediatrician. After telling him her concerns about the formula, he concluded Locklin was just a colicky baby; that she shouldn’t be concerned and should keep giving him the same formula. He also told her to check Locklin’s mouth for thrush.

“The night of my call to the doctor was the worst night I had with him,” says Natassia. “I had to wake him for his feeding and he did not want to drink his bottle at all. I tried to comfort him and get him to drink at least a little bit and he ended up gagging and dry heaving, which concerned me even more. I just knew something was not right.”

By now it was Friday and the appointment with the pediatric cardiologist wasn’t until Monday. Since she couldn’t bear waiting that long, she insisted on taking Locklin to his pediatrician’s office that Friday. Although at first Locklin appeared to be okay and was confirmed not to have thrush, the doctor noticed something while Natassia was dressing Locklin – his chest was caving in more than it should when he breathed.

The doctor advised a nurse to check his blood oxygen level on his toe. When they couldn’t get a reading, the nurse called 9-1-1, telling Natassia that Locklin would need to be checked at the hospital.

“To my shock, we loaded up in the ambulance and went to the hospital,” says Natassia. “I called my husband to let him know and he met us there.”

At the hospital, a physician once again tried checking Locklin’s blood oxygen level, but still couldn’t get a reading. An X-ray of his chest revealed that his heart was enlarged. There were no specialists to provide answers, so Rocklin was airlifted to Rady’s Children’s hospital in San Diego.

“As if the ambulance ride was not enough, I was horrified to be separated from my baby, who was going through the unknown on a helicopter and us driving separately to San Diego,” says Natassia. “They assured us he was going to have the best care, and we were comforted in knowing he was getting help.”

After they reached Rady’s, Natassia and Cody learned Locklin had been undergoing tests and receiving medication to help relax his heart. They finally got the news that he had a narrowed aorta, which is the main artery of the heart. Because of this, he had extremely poor circulation in the lower portion of his body and was actually choking on his food. He couldn’t breathe and eat at the same time.

“They said it was a good thing we came when we did because, if we had gone longer, Locklin would not have survived without help,” says Natassia. “They also broke it to us that he would need open-heart surgery to repair the aorta. We were so devastated – our little 2-week-old baby boy would need to undergo open-heart surgery to survive.”

With many family members and friends praying for him, Locklin went in for his surgery on November 16, his third week of life and the date of his original pediatric cardiologist  appointment. He was in surgery for six hours, with the actual surgery lasting three hours.

Locklin, now 4 months old, gets a hug from big brother Cameron.

Locklin, now 4 months old, gets a hug from big brother Cameron.

“It was the longest and scariest day of my life,” says Natassia. “Praying vigorously every second, we waited breathlessly for the pager they provided us to let us know when our precious baby was on bypass, having a machine pump blood into his precious heart for him, and when he was off bypass. Once we got the news that surgery was complete and spoke with the surgeon, we couldn’t do anything but thank God for such a great surgery.”

An extra blessing was learning that the surgeon had been able to close up Rocklin’s chest immediately after surgery instead of having to wait for the swelling to go down.

Prior to surgery, the parents had been warned about some of the complications that could occur after surgery, but Locklin experienced none of them. Every day that went by they pulled more tubes out of him, weaning him off the medication and oxygen. He was released from the hospital exactly one week after his surgery on Monday, November 23.

“We have been so blessed with our miracle and our miracle baby,” says Natassia. “We owe all the credit to God and are so grateful for his grace.”

Natassia also is grateful for both hers and Cody’s parents and grandparents. From Canyon Lake are Cody’s parents, Jim and Kathy Wright; Natassia’s mom, Lisa Hedrick; and her grandparents, Ed and Connie Salcedo.

“We also had overwhelming support with many people reaching out with prayers from our extended family and friends,” says Natassia. “We kept everyone updated on Locklin’s progress every day – from the moment he was admitted to the moment he was discharged – via Facebook. Our family friend/pastor also came to the hospital to pray with us before Locklin’s surgery, which meant the world to me. All I wanted was prayers from anyone and everyone . . . Locklin and our family were covered in so many prayers, love, and support. It was truly a blessing.”

The Wrights have lived in Canyon Lake three years and love it here. Cody and his father are avid fishermen. Even Locklin’s name means “of the lake.” These days Locklin is doing well and is a healthy 14 pounds. Natassia says he’s a happy baby and will be 4 months old on February 26.


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Donna Ritchie