Lisa Livesay – Why Kaden and I Walk
At 30 weeks pregnant, we found out news that would change our lives forever. Our unborn baby was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus (TA). The surgery required to help with TA has a 50/50 chance of success and his condition was not your typical TA case. He was experiencing heart failure inside the womb and would need a full valve replacement which doesn’t exist for tiny babies. Based on current knowledge and history, our doctors had concerns and told us to prepare the loss of our sweet baby boy.
A few weeks later, Kaden Tyler Livesay was born six weeks premature. Kaden looked healthy and strong and I only held him in my arms for a few seconds before he was whisked away. Tests started and confirmed the diagnosis and Kaden was scheduled for open heart surgery six days later. During those six days, I sat by his side, stroking his hair, singing him songs and creating memories with my boy.
The day of surgery arrived and we spent nine heart-wrenching hours waiting for answers. The surgeons did the best they could but he was too small for the valve replacement and they anticipated several rough days of recovery. Over the following days, Kaden stunned all medical staff with his strength and will to live. Lines and tubes began coming off. He even survived a sepsis infection and a botched hernia operation which almost claimed his life. The nurses started calling him “Rocky.”
The following months were not easy for our family. Kaden struggled to thrive and doctors explained that it was as though he were constantly running a marathon. After six months of struggling at home, he went into heart failure again and it was time to attempt the valve replacement. The chances were still low and the surgery to implant a mechanical valve would be major but it would be Kaden’s best shot. The surgery went well, despite some complications following. After several days, I was finally able to hold my baby - on Mother’s Day.
Today, Kaden is three. He attends preschool, plays outside, loves Mickey Mouse and has a smile that lights up the room. His story, like many others, is full of hope – he beat the odds! We are participating in the Denver Heart and Stroke Walk this year to support continuing research efforts to help people like Kaden can get a chance at life.