I learned about Frankie in the middle of the night when I got a phone call from a neonatologist in North Dakota. The team brought the baby down to us. Shortly thereafter, the cardiologists were at the bedside, trying to figure out what was going on with his little heart.
His valve disease was so severe, that's what made his case an emergency. There had already been an accumulation of injury to the heart.
It was a shock to hear just the words heart transplant. You never imagine hearing that for anybody that you care about and especially your firstborn child.
I had a really easy pregnancy. Everything went super well as planned. My delivery went very easy.
The second that he came out, something changed inside of me. A very powerful moment.
We had about 24 hours of just perfect bliss as a family. He went to get some vitals.
He was in there a little longer and they came back and said they may have heard a slight heart murmur.
His oxygen levels dropped and he ended up failing his cardiac screen. His murmur changed. It got a lot louder. They would arrange a flight for him. He was going to go down to Mayo.
It was very important to hear that they do have things that they can do. It wasn't hopeless.
The severity of Frankie's valve is very rare, where you have to really do an intervention right away and have a balloon procedure done to try to do dilate his aortic valve and hopefully improve his amount of blood flowing out of his heart and then improve his heart function. The ventricle below that valve that pumps the blood through that valve really never recovered function. It never got better. But we had really in-depth conversations with Frankie's family. The idea of transplants are really difficult. Knowing that we're giving them the best advice, the goal is to have a normal lifespan and to be able to do all the things that they want to do with their lives.
A heart transplant would essentially be the best option for him to live a normal life and essentially survive through this disease that he was born with. As long as it was the best option for Franklin, that's what we would go forward with. We wanted to get him baptized and anointed before we would go forward. One of our nurses in the NICU was able to get a hold of one of the on-call chaplains. It's just kind of amazing to be so supported for something that was so special to us.
The Mayo team started to become a family. It's such a good feeling to have the sense of family at the hospital.
Then the next decision point was how to keep him stable while he waited for a heart. That's when as a team we had to think outside of the box.
At Mayo Clinic, everything needs to be highly specified, highly specific to that patient, and tailored to their anatomy and what they need. Reviewing his case with several of my other colleagues, offered Franklin a therapy that really didn't exist. We are on the forefront of utilizing this technology.
We now have the ability to control the pressure and blood flow to the lungs without doing another surgery for a transplant.
And a cath team helped us by putting in devices. One's called a pulmonary flow restrictor and one's called a PDA stent. And that was going to keep him stable while we waited for the heart.
What we've done for Franklin reaches far beyond Franklin's story. This will offer other children more opportunities. We thank him and thank his family.
We're going to see this type of approach applied to a broader spectrum of heart disease. Our congenital cath lab is uniquely positioned to, to bring that type of care to children.
Mayo Clinic has a distinct advantage with all of the practitioners working under the same roof. Whenever there are new possibilities out there, Mayo Clinic and the staff are very keen to explore new technologies that are on the horizon that could be applied. We want to adhere to what's best. Some of what's newest, may in fact, be the best. And so we want to be sitting on both sides of that treatment option for patients that come here for care.
These little babies go through more than most of us will ever go through in our lifetime, along with their families. The incredible adversity and the resilience. It takes a team to coordinate something so serious and so complex and see it all come together so beautifully to save this little guy's life and to give him his life and a whole future.
We've had so many doctors and residents sit down and essentially cry with us and talk us through some of the hardest parts of our life. We've just been pretty amazed at the amount of expertise we're surrounded by.
It's a more genuine level of care, and care is the correct word. They want to help, whether it be with our son or with our emotions and how we're coping with things. There's nowhere else we'd rather have gone through all this at other than Mayo. And the recovery carried on quickly for him. We're going to go home for the first time ever with our son.
We're just so incredibly happy.