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Trace's Story

Friday, May 31, 2013

Watching Trace dance around at his Wiggles themed first birthday party, you'd never know the health scare he gave his parents just days into his little life. When E.C. and his wife Karen got married, they knew they wanted to start having kids right away, but they didn't realize the difficult road they had ahead. The couple went through five rounds of IVF, five rounds of IUI and two miscarriages over a four year period. So, you can imagine how overjoyed they were when they found out they were pregnant with little Trace.

"We felt so blessed and almost relieved," said Karen. "After all we went through, it was really hard to believe at first. So many people take having kids for granted. I enjoyed every single minute of being pregnant because it was such a miracle."

After a fairly easy pregnancy and birth, Karen and E.C. were thrilled to welcome 5 lb. 15 oz. Trace into the world on March 22. But, on day two of his little life, the doctors at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU noticed something was wrong with Trace's heart.

"Finding out our beautiful baby boy had a heart condition that would kill him if it wasn't fixed was scary," said E.C. "But, everyone was so helpful and supportive that it really made us trust that everything would be okay. His doctor even took the time to draw us a picture of the heart to help explain to us Trace's anomalies."

Trace's condition, Tetralogy of Fallot, is characterized by a combination of four birth defects which affect the structure and blood flow of the heart. In Trace's case, the abnormalities included a hole in the septum which separates the lower ventricles of the heart, a blockage over the pulmonary valve, thickening of the heart's muscular wall and an out-of-place aorta, the artery which carries high-oxygen blood to the body. The combined effects resulted in an inadequate supply of blood to the lungs, causing less oxygenated blood to flow to the rest of the body. In severe cases, the lack of oxygenated blood can lead to cyanosis, which is a blue or purple tint to the skin. For this reason, Trace's heart condition used to be known as blue baby syndrome; however Trace was considered a "pink tet" because he never suffered from cyanosis.

In September of 2012, six months after he was born, little Trace had open heart surgery to correct the defects. After cooling him down, stopping his heart and putting him on bypass, Trace's pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon was able to repair the hole in his heart, shift the aorta back, clear the obstruction and repair the muscle hypertrophy, giving Trace his life.

"Fifty or sixty years ago, Trace probably wouldn't have lived to see his 30th birthday, and he would have had a difficult life," said E.C. "He had everything against him, but with the medical expertise we now have available, Trace will be able to live a full, normal life."

Trace is now a happy, active one-year-old who loves playing outside and is preparing to become a big brother.

"We didn't know anyone who had been through something like this before, but the team at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU knew exactly what to do," said EC. "We were amazed by our doctors. They saved our son's life and we will forever be grateful."

Six months later, at Trace's first birthday party, he is doing wonderfully. Not even small for his age, Trace should be able to live a completely normal life without any limitations on his activities. And of course, his dad, a former VCU baseball player, is hoping he chooses baseball as one of those activities!


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