As of yesterday, Jack had utilized all available resources to help make him better – except one. As of today, that is no longer the case. Today Jack underwent surgery and was put on a machine called ECMO. ECMO is the entire reason they sent us here in the first place. Less than 100 hospitals in the United States have an ECMO machine, and to have one available to us (only 2 hours from home) is nothing short of a blessing.
Jack had a really good day yesterday. He was stable and pulling good numbers. We had planned on making a quick run to Ames, and his status made us feel better about our choice. We arrived back to Iowa City to find that he was still doing well. This morning while Adam was trying to figure out how we were going to get our flat tire fixed (a lovely surprise) he gave a call to check on Jack. They told us he had a serious dip in the numbers early this morning and they wanted to put him on ECMO this afternoon. We immediately headed to the hospital (barely making the first shuttle from where we are staying). After what can only be described as one of the longest mornings of our life, we were sent out to the lobby to await the completion of the surgery.
So, I will try to explain what ECMO is, but of course it’s pretty technical. Basically, they went in and surgically put two tubes in his neck. One of the tubes removes 80% of the blood from little Jack’s body. The blood is then run through a machine that oxygenates the blood, and then it is carried through the second tube back into his body. The purpose is to give his heart and lungs a rest so they can heal. Instead of his heart pumping the blood to the lungs where it would then be oxygenated and carried to the rest of his organs, the machine is doing all that for him: outside of his body.
To say the machine is horrific and awful to look at would be an understatement. It is hard to describe, but there are tubes running all over: filled with blood. His body is more swollen than ever (although in the next 24 hours, his body will lose A LOT of the fluid and will look almost normal. His head will remain swollen.) I have never been nauseated by blood, or needles, or anything medical really: and I had a very hard time walking into his room after he was all set up. He looks so sick and the machine is just so intense.
We were told several times today that this is the last resort. They did say that most times this machine does exactly what it needs to, but there are rare cases when it doesn’t work. Generally they would know in less then 21 days if it is going to work or not: probably more like 7-10 days. Of big concern is bleeding in the brain: which can happen because he is on a medication that makes his blood thin to avoid clotting.
Adam and I are heartbroken but we have not lost hope. Adam told me that he has been thinking a lot about the story of Lazarus. Even though Martha knew “the plan” and knew that death was not the end, she was still so sad when her plea for the Savior to save her brother appeared to be unanswered. Adam and I do know that our family is eternal and if we are not able to raise our little son in this life, we will be able to be with him in the next. All the same…we sure would love to have the chance to raise him here on Earth. We love him so much and know that he is as sweet as they come. Our prayer now is that this machine will work and Baby Jack will become strong and healthy: so that we might enjoy that sweet spirit in our life for many years to come.