Erica Thayer   |   April 13, 2020

TGA Survivor — Dalton’s Story


TGA Survivor

“Had we taken the ambulance instead of the plane, we might not have made it in time to save his life.”

Kayla and her husband had just had a beautiful baby boy. Not first time parents, they knew the drill of labor and delivery. However, their new baby was acting a bit different than their girls did when they were born. He was quiet. His skin was pale, not pink like their older kids had been. He wasn’t really eating and was extra sleepy. Still, they were assured everything was fine and they would be home by the next evening. Little did they know that in reality they would not be home for many weeks.  

It was finally discovered that Dalton was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). He was flown to a bigger city’s children’s hospital and was in urgent need of surgery. 

TGA Miracle Murmur

“The seriousness of Dalton’s condition hit me like a ton of bricks even though I didn’t understand it all.  I asked the team what they needed to do to fix the problem. They went on to explain that the murmur our doctor had thought was the problem was actually the very thing that had kept Dalton alive.  When babies are in the womb, they all have a bypass that takes the red blood to the body and not through the lungs since they are not breathing yet. The bypass usually closes within 24 hours of birth, but Dalton’s had stayed open allowing some of his blood to mix with oxygen.  They told me this bypass was starting to close,” Kayla, Dalton’s mom said. 

No Tears Left

The first surgery needed to ensure a whole in the heart was maintained to work as a bypass for blood. “The surgery seemed to take forever as we waited.  We were exhausted emotionally and physically, in a foreign place, and so confused. All we could do was pray. I was too tired to cry anymore.” Another surgery was performed, and Dalton was thought to be doing well. Until he wasn’t and had to be put on ECMO. “After twelve long hours of waiting, we were finally able to see him at 7 that night.  He was motionless, a machine was breathing for him while another machine was doing the work of his heart. It was a frightening scene.”

Never Lose Hope

He was on ECMO for four days but thankfully came off it with ease besides some swelling issues which were soon resolved. His chest was then closed. That was the beginning of an eight week hospital stay filled with many ups and downs: a “code blue” scare, more interventions and complications than one could imagine. Still, his family never gave up hope. They had a community of people raising money, supporting, and praying for them. Dalton is now doing very well at home with his family living as a TGA survivor. He still has at least one more surgery coming up as there is no cure for CHD. Learn how Project Heart is on a mission to change that

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