After the heart cath on tuesday, things were looking good. The doctors showed us x-ray images of the restored functionality to Judah’s pulmonary artery and the increased blood flow to his lungs. Everyone was hopeful that this would help Judah not only breath easier, but have more strength to push forward in his recovery. He was resting well and gaining strength, and although he seemed uncomfortable at times, he was easy to console and soothe – until late last night.
Around 2am this morning Judah started choking a little bit, and as the nurse was suctioning some mucus out of his mouth, his breathing stopped and his heart rate skyrocketed and then dropped. He had gone into cardiac arrest and his heart stopped beating. Immediately the doctors and nurses jumped into action and performed CPR to keep his blood and oxygen flowing through his body for close to 45 minutes, until they could get him on an ECMO machine, which is a heart/lung bypass machine to take over for him. After some time, they were able to stabilize him, and he is currently on life support – a breathing tube and the ECMO which acts as his heart and lungs, pumping blood out of his body through the machine to filter it like his heart would, and back through his body.
With the support of the machines, he is currently stable, but somewhat sedated. The full effects of his heart and lungs stopping is not yet known, but they have been running a complete battery of tests, including chest x-rays, brain ultrasounds, and a number of monitors to watch his every action, internally and externally. He is under very close supervision in the CICU, and a team of doctors and nurses constantly by his side running and reading test results.
The doctors have given us hope, saying that he is showing signs of brain function. He is moving his arms and legs, and when he does occasionally wake up, he opens his eyes and looks around the room, and tries to cry like a baby that is feeling discomfort. These are excellent signs of brain function and nerve sensitivity, but as we’ve been told, the full extent will need to be seen over the coming days and weeks. They have performed brain ultrasounds which so far are showing clear and no signs of lesions or bleeding, and the doctor even said when they performed an EEG they saw evidence of “sleep spindles” which show significant activity in the brain, similar to and evidence of dreams, which developmentally is even a little bit ahead of track for Judah’s age. When he does wake up from time to time, the doctors monitor his movement, and then give him medicine to go back to sleep, though he is not continuously on any medication to keep him sedated, as they want to continue monitoring his own patterns.
As of the most recent update from our doctors just a few minutes ago, Judah remains calm and comfortable, and his heart arrhythmias are getting more and more under control. The doctors are still working to determine the cause of this incident, but believe it may have to do with the sudden flow of blood to the lungs following the heart cath procedure, since previously the lungs were not used to such blood flow, it was a bit overwhelming to them, and the act of choking and swallowing incorrectly caused a shock and shutdown in his lungs and heart.
During this tough time we appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than ever. The next several days will be very slow, with a lot of testing and monitoring. This will be another period where on the surface it will not be easy to see many changes, but internally we hope and pray that Judah is healing and rebuilding, with the aid and care of all of his doctors and nurses. The staff in the CICU see and perform miracles every day, and we are confident our own miracle child will continue to be one of them. Please keep Judah, and us, in your hearts and thoughts, and together we will all get through these most difficult of days.