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Hayden's Heart



April 2013

Hayden Fuhs was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a potentially fatal congenital heart disorder. But with the help of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent, Hayden is now living (and loving) life as an energetic 10-year old.

When Hayden Fuhs was born in September 2002, all signs pointed to him being a perfectly healthy baby.

But after just a few hours, Hayden began to show alarming symptoms. He labored to breathe, and his skin turned a bluish color. Doctors performed an X-ray, which revealed an abnormal heart. Without immediate treatment, the consequences would be dire.

Counting Every Second

"I felt helpless," said Hayden's father Clint. "You think you can do everything for your child, but here was one thing I couldn't do."

A doctor recommended that the Fuhses have Hayden transferred to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent for emergency heart care. A few short hours later, the Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team arrived, stabilized Hayden on the scene, and transported him to Indianapolis.

At the hospital, the Fuhses met Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Parikh, who explained that Hayden had hypoplastic left heart syndrome—a rare congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped.

Fixing the problem would require three rounds of high-risk open-heart surgery. According to Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Sara Bodenmiller, it was the only real option that could ensure Hayden's long-term survival. "This is one of the most severe congenital heart conditions that kids are born with," she said. "Without surgery or cardiac transplantation, they don't survive."

Pediatric Heart Surgeon Dr. Simon Abraham performed the first operation when Hayden was only 4 days old. "It was hard," Clint remembered. And the following days were even harder, as Hayden recovered with help from a respirator and 10 different medications administered intravenously. But gradually, Hayden improved enough to receive follow-up surgery 10 months later.

A Remarkable Recovery

Dr. Abraham performed the third and final surgery on Hayden in 2005, allowing his heart to successfully operate on just one ventricle.

Hayden's mom, Amber, credits the staff at the Children's Heart Center for the care they provided—to both Hayden and her. "During his first surgery, I was still recovering from delivering," she said. "The staff was so thoughtful about reminding me to take a nap or get a bite to eat if Hayden was resting. They looked out for me as a new mom."

Clint echoed her sentiments. "After the first surgery, I knew I never wanted to be at another hospital. It was a whole different level—like being in the major leagues compared to the minors."

These days, Hayden only returns to Children's Heart Center at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent for periodic check-ups. The rest of the time, he's busy enjoying his favorite pastimes: showing his pet goats, taking ukulele lessons and helping his dad package pizzas at the family business.

You'd never guess the energetic 10-year-old is any different from other kids his age. "I feel great." Hayden said. "I can do normal things; I'm actually pretty normal."

Later this month, Hayden will be honored as the True Hero Award winner at this year's Peyton Manning Children Hospital at St. Vincent Gala. Often, kids his age shy away from the spotlight. But Hayden is embracing it.

"When I heard about it, I was really excited. I look forward to thanking my doctors for all they helped me with, and everything they've done for me."


Tags: In This Issue, Local

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