The Lenhart Family

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hope's baby step to healing

Here's an update from my sister about Hope's first heart surgery...

It's been a long and anxious day, but we are happy to report that our little princess warrior has pulled it off! I apologize for taking so long to send out a full update. However, the news was coming in bits and pieces and I wanted to wait until we had a clearer picture of how the day went. Hope was wheeled into surgery at about 8:00am EST this morning and remained there for approximately five hours. Overall the surgery was deemed a success. There have been a few minor setbacks, but hopefully nothing that will prove to be significant. During the critical part of the surgery when she underwent circulatory arrest to fix her heart, the surgeon discovered that her aortic valve was much more narrow than anticipated. The surgeon usually completes this surgical step in about 25 minutes (time is of the essence since the baby is in arrest) but because of the narrowing of the valve, it took her 37 minutes. Aaron said that when speaking to her afterwards, it was obvious that she felt a big "victory" for being able to even fix it at all, as it appears that this particular surgery was anything but routine. Please pray that the extended period of arrest does not carry with it any additional neurological damage to Hope's rapidly developing brain.

In addition, there was a complication with Hope's IV in her right hand. I am not a doctor (unless you count my honorary MD from the University of Google :)), so I am not sure of the medical term -- but the IV slipped from her vein causing the fluid to seep into her tissue, which in turn caused her hand to blister. The doctors tending to Hope immediately called in a plastic surgeon to make sure there was no nerve damage. So far it seems to be under control, but only time will tell.

Hope's chest will remain open for the next few days protected by a clear synthetic skin-like covering so that the doctors can monitor her heart's function and check for swelling. Because of this, she will remain heavily sedated. Aaron and Sara were able to visit her later in the day and reported that she had the hiccups, jerked her foot back when they tickled the bottom of her feet, and was engaging in the sucking reflex. These are all positive signs and we are very grateful for all of her seemingly "normal" newborn gestures.

Aaron and I spoke early this morning shortly after Hope went into surgery. As long as I live, I don't think I will ever forget that moment --- lying in my bed in the dark at 6:00am local time, talking with my "baby" brother about his beautiful baby girl and the challenges she will face, and yet being blown away at his courage, strength and unwavering faith in God and His grace. Throughout the day, it was hard to force the negative images and thoughts out of my head. But luckily for me, Aaron unknowingly provided me with a positive picture in my mind which I held on to all day and shared with anyone who asked about my niece. During this conversation, Aaron expressed how difficult it had been for him and Sara to get any sleep the night before. Finally at 4:00am, they gave up and headed to the hospital. There alone in the NICU, they gave Hope a sponge bath to make her all clean and pretty for her big day --- her new shot at a long and happy life. It was the image of the three of them sharing such a special moment that I chose to focus on as the day wore on. :)

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and good thoughts

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