A True Blessing

Kyle Pettijohn is an employee at Indiana Blood Center in Terre Haute. Other than working with blood on a day-to-day basis, Kyle has a more personal connection with blood that he shares below.

On August 9, 2010 my wife and I were blessed with a set of twin boys which became our third and fourth children. They were born at 37 weeks at IU Health in Indianapolis. Cayden weighed 5 lbs 14 oz, and Dylan weighed 6 lbs 2 oz.

Very early on in the pregnancy through a fetal heart echo Dylan was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as Hypo plastic Left Heart Syndrome, or HLHS. This means that during early development his heart did not grow correctly, and most of the left side of his heart would not function. His heart would be unable to sustain his life without immediate medication therapy followed by a series of open heart surgeries.

This series of three surgeries was the option we chose out of three total possibilities. As soon as he was born he was taken through tunnels to the NICU at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health where his care began. His brother remained in the NICU at IU Health.

Dylan and his twin brother, Cayden

Dylan was given medication to keep his ductus arteriosis open in his heart to allow it to sustain him while he adjusts to his new environment. He was in the NICU for the first nine days of his life. During this time he was back and forth between being intubated and on a ventilator, and cpap. He also had several iv lines and arterial line.

On the morning of the ninth day my wife and I were able to hold him for the first time before they took him for surgery.

The purpose of this surgery is basically to re-plumb his heart to bypass the left side so that the right side will now do all of the work. The surgery went very well and my wife and I were taken back to meet with the surgeon. We waited and waited and after about an hour a nurse came to see us and explained that during Dylan’s recovery he began to have a reaction to the clotting factor causing his new shunt to clot off and Dylan to greatly deteriorate.

At this point they reopened his chest removed the shunt and replaced it with a new one. This took a couple of hours and then the surgeon came to see us. He said Dylan was now stable but they were concerned about his strength over the next few days.

Small but Mighty

Because of this concern Dylan was then placed on a machine called ECMO, or Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation. Dylan is the 687 person to ever be on this machine at Riley Hospital. There are tubes coming directly from his heart going into this machine which works as his heart and pumps oxygenated blood to his body so his heart can rest.

Dylan received several units of blood during the original surgery and even more after. After the surgery Dylan was losing approximately 60 ml of blood an hour through his chest tube. For a baby this is a large amount. 

Dylan now had his chest opened a third time for an exploratory surgery to find the source of the bleeding. Dylan was bleeding around all of the tiny sutures in his heart and vessels where they had made changes. This was fixed basically with a type of super glue.

Dylan remained on ECMO for two days. After coming off of ECMO he then struggled to come off of the ventilator. He was extubated and intubated four more times.

Dylan was now having so much blood drawn for testing that he was now requiring transfusions to replace that blood. 

Raise Your Sleeve for Dylan

Dylan was in the hospital a total of three months. He has since underwent his second stage surgery and did wonderfully with it and was only in the hospital nine days.

We are so blessed to have him in our family. Without the medical staff, medical technology, and the precious blood our son received, we would not have him today. We thank God every day for these blessings, and we thank the people who make all of these things possible every chance we get.  

Thank you so much Indiana Blood Center, for all you do.

Raise Your Sleeve for Dylan and his courageous fight for life. Go to DonorPoint.org and make an appointment to give blood today. Tomorrow… You’ll have someone’s  undying gratitude.

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