OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT)– February marks American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the number one killer in the nation.
For one family in Owensboro, heart health has been on their mind since their son was born.
“We are very blessed and very thankful he is here. He is our miracle, definitely our miracle,” says Chelsea Rusher.
Rusher went in for a routine scan with her midwife and learned her son, Baylor, had a problem with his heart.
“She said there is a heart defect. I do not know to what extent it is, so I am going to refer you to a maternal fetal medicine specialist,” Rusher says.
That began their journey with Norton’s Children’s Hospital in Louisville. Her son was born in March of 2021. Doctors say Baylor had a double inlet left ventricle, which affects valves and chambers of the heart. Rusher shared a diagram of her son’s heart with Eyewitness News. It was drawn by the cardiologist. It shows how that the Baylor’s left ventricle was the only one pumping and right ventricle was very small.
After 8 days in the NICU, they were able to go home, and monitored his heart.
“We had to log in information every night, his heart rate, his pulse, and his oxygen saturation level. I had to weigh him every night,” she says.
The family tracked every day until his first major heart surgery, at six months old in October of 2021. Baylor struggled to recover.
“When they put him to sleep, he went into cardiac arrest and he was down for five minutes, They did CPR. They activated ECMO and deactivated ECMO, once they bought him back, to continue with the catheter. They saw that he was not getting blood flow to his left lung and said he immediately needed to go into surgery,” Rusher says.
He was not out of the woods yet. Nurses noticed fluid building up in Baylor’s face and neck, which meant another surgery.
“He was kind of touch and go,” she says.
After weeks in the cardiac ICU and more surgeries, Rusher says things began to look up.
Now, Baylor is almost two years old.
“He is usually pretty happy, but he is turning into a toddler. He loves to play with our brother and sister and dog,” she says.
Baylor is expected to undergo another major surgery in spring of 2024.