A baby boy who had multiple in-utero operations to save his life is now celebrating his first birthday.
In March 2018, when Sara Toner, 21, was six months pregnant, she discovered that her son, Tyler, had a heart defect that made it difficult for blood to scatter his body properly.
Doctors told Toner, from Spokane, Washington, that if they did not operate immediately, her son's survival rate would be less than 10 percent.
So Toner and her husband, Ryan Hendershot, 32, traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, for a rare operation in which a small balloon was inserted into Tyler's aortic valve to allow proper blood flow.
After another four surgeries, doctors determined that Tyler's heart began to develop well and his chances of survival increased to 60 percent.
Sara Toner, 21, from Spokane, Washington, was six months pregnant when she heard that her son had a left-wing hypoplastic syndrome. On the photo: Tyler with his parents Ryan, left and Sara
Hypoplastic left syndrome is a birth defect where the left side of the heart is not correct while the baby is in the womb. Pictured: Tyler in the hospital
Toner's pregnancy was difficult from the start. She suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious form of morning sickness.
It can lead to hospitalization due to dehydration due to extreme nausea and vomiting.
Several celebrities have opened up to their experience with hyperemesis gravidarum, including Kate Middleton, Kim Kardashian and Kelly Clarkson.
& # 39; I lost 17 kilos in my first trimester because I couldn't hold back anything, & # 39; said Toner.
During her 20-week ultrasound, Toner's midwife told her to see a pediatric cardiologist for & # 39; further testing & # 39 ;.
She had a fetal echocardiogram at the local children's hospital and the cardiologist told her that her son had hypoplastic left syndrome and aortic valve stenosis.
Hypoplastic left syndrome is a birth defect where the left side of the heart is not correct while the baby is in the womb.
Because the left side of the heart is unable to pump oxygenated blood through the body, the right side is responsible for pumping blood to both the lungs and the rest of the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 960 babies are born with this defect every year in the US.
Problems arise soon after birth, including breathing difficulties, a weak pulse and a bluish skin color.
Aortic valve stenosis occurs when the aortic valve – the valve that separates the main pump chamber and main artery from the heart – narrows.
This limits or prevents the blood flow from your heart through the aorta to the rest of the body.
Doctors told Toner, from Spokane, Washington, that if they didn't work immediately, Tyler's survival rate would be below 10 percent. She and her husband raised money to travel to Boston Children's & # 39; s Hospital in Massachusetts. Pictured, left and right: Tyler
Tyler underwent five in-utero aortic valvuloplastics, with a small balloon inflated in his valve to allow proper blood flow. Pictured: Tyler with parents, Ryan and Sara
& # 39; I was crushed. I only dreamed that I was the mother of a beautiful and healthy baby, & Toner said.
& # 39; I felt it was my fault even though it was confirmed to be a completely random case. & # 39;
The cardiologist wanted to send Toner to Boston Children's & # 39; s Hospital for in-uterosurgery. Although her insurer approved the costs of an operation, the hospital did not accept the insurance that she had.
Within a week, Toner and her husband raised money with the help of friends and family to go back and forth.
After 23 weeks of pregnancy, Tyler had an in-utero aortic valve vaccoplasty.
& # 39; They inserted a small needle through my stomach, directly through his chest and into his aortic valve, & # 39; said Toner. & # 39; They have inflated a small balloon in its valve as a way to open it to allow blood flow. & # 39;
He still had four valvuloplastics in utero, as well as a thoracotomy to restore his aortic arch, the part of the artery that bends.
Toner was checked weekly and it soon became apparent that the left side of the baby's heart was developing.
Without the in-uterosurgery, Tyler's survival rate was less than 10 percent, but the operation increased it to 60 percent.
After a few weeks of monitoring, it was clear that the left side of Tyler's & # 39; s heart was developing. Pictured: toner scar that shows where doctors were operating
Tyler (left and right) was born in May 2018 and weighs seven pounds. He has had six surgeries since birth, but has continued to thrive and has just celebrated his first birthday
Tyler was born in May 2018 weighing seven pounds and has continued to thrive since then despite the instability of his health.
He has had four operations in the first three weeks of his life, and two more in the following four months thereafter.
Toner admits that it was difficult to find out about her son's heart condition because she was not given the opportunity to deal with it, she was immediately planning operations.
& # 39; It's terrifying. I never had the chance to mourn or go. I immediately had to plan the rest of our lives as heart parents, & Toner said.
& # 39; I don't think at this point, a year later, I have stopped completely to grieve the missed life of a healthy baby. This is my life now, but I am still blessed. & # 39;
Toner said that she did not feel comfortable sharing the story of her family in public, but is grateful that she had the opportunity to meet others experiencing a similar situation.
& # 39; I want people to see that an unhealthy baby is not the end of the world & she said.
& # 39; There are many more hoops to go through, but every second is worth it. You never ask to be a heart parent, but I have learned that it is bestowed on the strongest. & # 39;
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