A routine ultrasound to determine the gender of their baby (it’s a boy!) also revealed that their growing baby had a hole in his heart. Transferred to the care of the High Risk Pregnancy clinic at the Foothills, they underwent multiple ultrasounds that revealed there may be other concerns. In fact, when he was born, the medical team determined there were a number of plumbing and piping issues that would need to be resolved for Cooper in order of importance and urgency. (VACTERL association is a disorder that affects many body systems. VACTERL stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities.)
When he was two days old, he underwent his first surgery to have the connections between his trachea, esophagus and stomach sorted out. Since his digestive tract had no outlet, surgeons also installed an ostomy bag to collect his poop! He was in hospital for 7 weeks healing and making sure that all the connections were working well. During that time, he had a 30 cm NJ tube through which he received nutrients (a tube through his nasal passages, down his throat, through his tummy and into his small intestine). At one point during the latter part of his stay, he decided he’d had enough and pulled it out?! Reinserting it would have required another sedation and procedure, so the team decided to see if Cooper could take to feeding from a bottle…and with some patience and perseverance, he did! This was a huge win!
When he was four months old, he had grown strong enough to have ventricles in his heart repaired up at Stollery. While the procedure went perfectly, a few days following the surgery he aspirated on some medication and went into cardiac arrest! Melanie stood by in shock watching the team perform CPR for 10 minutes to bring him back. Many tests were performed after that episode to ensure that all his pipes were still well connected…and they were. As mom says, Cooper just likes to keep them on their toes!
Another series of procedures were done last summer/fall to give his digestive tract an outlet…meaning he could poop like a typical baby! Imagine how excited Melanie’s family was to receive that picture!?
Melanie and Michael are so grateful that the team at the Alberta Children’s Hospital was able to take a look at their complicated little baby boy and sort everything out. With one more potential surgery pending, the checklist of fixes is almost done and it’s hoped that Cooper will carry on to live a happy and healthy life!