Post-surgical nightmare turned “miracle” | Mirage News

In the words of 4-year-old Max Weigel, “I fell asleep and woke up without a word.”

This simple description minimizes the experience of a young boy who overcame enormous obstacles. Today, three years after major health issues, Max’s parents, Noël and Nick, share his story of strength, perseverance and their luck to be in the right place at the right time, with the right healthcare team.

Challenges from birth

Max was born with a congenital heart defect known as atrial septal defect – a hole in the upper chamber of his heart. An ASD is the second most common congenital heart defect and accounts for 10-15% of all congenital heart defects. In many cases, since the disease causes no symptoms during infancy and childhood, it may go unnoticed. An ASD can occur in a healthy heart or can be associated with other heart defects. In Max’s case, a second congenital heart condition – left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy – would make his situation more complex.

The Rockford, Michigan family sought the care of Grand Rapids pediatric cardiologist Ronald Grifka, MD, who recommended surgery to fix the hole in Max’s heart once he was a few years older. .

Because of Max’s two heart issues, Grifka recommended surgery at the University of Michigan’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital, where a pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit was available for complications.

“By undergoing heart surgery at Mott for closure of his atrial septal defect, Max would have all the additional specialists and resources necessary to address any issues that may develop related to left ventricular non-compaction, including arrhythmia, heart failure and strokes,” Grifka said. “Even though we try hard to prevent any of these problems from developing after surgery, they can still happen.”

A successful operation

The Weigel family was on board to undergo Max’s operation at Mott. The procedure would be performed by pediatric surgeon Richard Ohye, MD, and would involve cutting open Max’s chest and placing sutures to close the hole in his heart. This was a relatively simple procedure that should go smoothly.

Much to his parents’ relief, Max recovered extremely well after the operation, which took place on April 25, 2019.

“Within a short time, he felt good, Noël said, noting that he had to go home earlier than expected.

An unexpected challenge

But two nights after the operation, as Noel lay next to his son, Max started acting erratically.

“I asked him what was wrong and tried to talk to him, but he didn’t answer. When he started moaning, I knew something was wrong.

Noel remembers running for help and seeing the room flooded with doctors and medical staff, all within minutes.

“It was a whirlwind from there.”

As the medical team worked to determine next steps, Noel and Nick prepared for the worst. But they didn’t expect the “worst” to be the news that their young son had suffered a massive stroke. A blood clot was blocking blood flow to his brain.

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