This year, I am participating as a virtual rider for the Courage Classic on the Cardiac Climbers Team. This bike ride at Copper Mountain in Colorado raises funds so that Children’s Hospital Colorado can continue providing top quality care for children from all across the nation.
I am lucky enough to participate in this event and raise money for Tony Vasquez whose story is truly inspirational when told by his Father.
At our 20-week appointment we found out that our son, Antonio Tomas Vasquez (Tony), had some very serious heart defects. So serious that the doctor suggested we terminate because, even if he survived, his quality of life would be very poor. We decided to rely on our faith to carry our son and his heart through this pregnancy. Due to the severity of his uniqueness, we were referred to Children’s Hospital in Colorado where they specialize in these cases. There we met Dr. Lisa Howley and her team who reassured us that they would do everything in their power to save our son. To this point we knew that our son had Dextrocardia, heterotaxy, asplenia, right dominant unbalanced AVSD, double outlet right ventricle with subpulmonic stenosis, left sided aortic arch, right atrial isomerism, pulmonary venous confluences to the right sided atrium, and left SVC to left sided atrium with IAA and azygous continuation. However, on October the 4th, 2017, our prayers were answered in the form of the most beautiful, loving, smiley faced, chunky little piece of heaven that anyone could ask for. We actually got a few minutes of “normal delivery” things. Mom got to hold him. Dad got to cut the umbilical cord. Then, for the first time we heard, “He’s doing great. You guys might be able to hold him in an hour or so.” Uncontrollable tears. The team tried explaining how everything about his heart and anatomy was so backwards and wrong but somehow he was doing just fine. “Perfectly imbalanced.”
He did so well for five days straight that they told us they were going to release us to the Ronald McDonald House. If he did well for two weeks, we would be able to travel back home to Albuquerque. He did fantastic for those two weeks, but during his last visit, his pulmonary artery started to close. They admitted him immediately and told us he had to have open heart surgery right away. At 27 days old, our son underwent his first open heart surgery. He recovered great after that surgery and within three weeks we were back home in Albuquerque. On April 5, 2018, his little heart crashed where they had put in the shunt. We were airlifted back to the Children’s Hospital in Colorado where he had another procedure done. But this was a temporary fix. June 21, 2018, our doctors were prepared to do a full double ventricle repair on his heart. About 4 1/2 hours into his surgery we got the phone call that our son would not survive if they continued on the full repair route. They were switching to life saving mode and they could not tell us what all had to be done. The longest 6 hours of our life passed before the surgeon, Dr. Jaggers, came out and told us that he did survive. They had to switch to something similar to the Glenn procedure that is common in heart babies with HLHS, but he was doing fine. The next day, he woke up. Stronger than ever. All smiles. Just eating and laughing. He had a small setback calling for another small procedure on his heart and inserted a stent. He recovered within 24 hours. After that, he never looked back. He’s eating great, he’s growing great, he’s walking all over the place and he’s the most lovable child ever. Baby Superman’s new journey of survival has started. The happiest, most beautiful, smiley faced, chunky little bundle from God is conquering this world one day at a time. And filling my heart with a little more pride each day. Thank you so much for hearing our story.
The Courage Classic is not only a personal challenge, but also an opportunity to support positive outcomes and healthier futures for children.