4th Anniversay of Noah's Open-Heart Surgery

4 years ago today - April 26th, 2006 - our Noah underwent a 9-hour surgery on his precious little heart.

Noah was born with some interesting things going on with his heart: Double Outlet Right Ventricle, Ventricular Septal Defect, Pulmonary Artery Stenosis, and Patent Foramen Ovale... to be exact.

I had no idea what any of those names meant when we first saw this face on June 20th, 2005...

and just knew.

I mean had-the-peace-of-God KNEW that this was our son. Before seeing that precious face we had never even considered adopting Special Needs - or a boy, for that matter!

One part of Noah's records in particular just grabbed me immediately:
"YuTong is active and cute. When he sees people he does not know well, he will cry and look for his familiar caretakers unless the caretaker holds him. He can change blocks from one hand to the other. When you talk to him, he will smile at you, waving and kicking excitedly. Now, because he has serious heart disease, he cannot sit in the walker too long, otherwise he will have difficult in breathing. We usually let him to play on the bed".(emphasis mine)

His blood oxygen saturation levels were reported to be in the 70%s.

Oh, this boy needed a mama and daddy to take care of him!

And we knew that was us...

We knew he was in serious condition, and needed open-heart surgery asap. I'm a recovering worrier, and even with the Holy Spirit now residing in my heart, worrying is something I battle against. So from the time we first saw Noah's face...I was concerned about whether he would even make it home with us. I cried (literally) out to the Lord every day, asking Him to keep this boy safe, so we could bring him home and get him the help he needed.

Much to mine and Jas' surprise (but not the Lord's), China agreed that Noah needed surgery asap. As our Letter of Intent to adopt Gui Yu Tong was in the air on it's way to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA)... Noah was wheeled into his first open-heart surgery, in China.

It was 4 months and 11 days from the time we first saw his face until we first held Noah in China (practically a record in China SN adoptions). Thankfully, we were then able to have Noah home for 5 months before it was time to take our newly 2-year old little guy to have his second open-heart surgery.

Here is an e-mail that I sent to our friends and family to update them on Noah's status 2 days after the surgery:

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for the prayers you have offered up to the Heavenly Father on behalf of our precious son. Noah is doing very well after his 9-hour surgery. The Lord was absolutely in control and supplying wisdom in the operating room- while supplying peace in the waiting room!

Noah is still ln the ICU and has a nurse all to his precious self. They were able to take his ventilation tube out at about 11 p.m. the first night, at which point Noah was able to utter his first post-op word…"Dada." Where's the Love, Noah???

Here are the highlights from Noah's First two post-op days: we've seen a few smiles, he's waved and blown kisses at visitors, gotten mad and pulled his oxygen cannula out of his nose (several times), he's drinking (a little), and eating (a few bites), Mind you, he is being very well medicated for pain (morphine, codeine, etc.), so he is very comfortable and is asleep almost all the time, with only very brief interludes of wakefulness, into which he squeezed these activities, all performed in a very lethargic and half-asleep state.

He is very swollen (to be expected), and has seemingly 1,000 tubes and wires attached to his little body. He is on 9 (!) different medications right now (and this, combined with his empty belly, explains why he has been sick a few times today). The two chest tubes that are draining blood/fluid from his chest cavity are draining less and less all the time, which is good.

Noah is on a temporary pacemaker right now, but the doctors did go ahead and insert permanent leads into Noah's chest so that if a pacemaker is needed down the line, they won't have to open his chest back up to insert electrical leads. Noah's oxygen saturation levels were 80-85% pre-op - they're now consistently running 94-95%, which is great! (Although I don't know how in the world I'm going to keep up with him now, as he was already giving me a run for my money!)

Noah's sternum did not heal correctly after his first open-heart surgery in China (about 9 mos. ago), it protruded in the middle where the two sides met. When the doctors got in there yesterday, they discovered that Noah had evidently had a sternal infection and the two sides of his breastbone had never even fused back together. Instead they were connected by scar tissue and would shift around during activity! The surgeon cleaned this up and it already looks better. After a few more tubes and wires are removed, Noah should be able to leave ICU and move to the 6th floor.

After his arterial line, another IV line and his Foley catheter we're removed late this morning, I was able to hold him for the first time! (And I didn't let go for 5 hours!) They say it is good for him to be held (helps clear his lungs) - I know it was good for this mama!

As with Noah's surgery attempt last month, the Lord had a different plan in mind for the operating room than any of us had anticipated. During the surgery, the doctors realized that the structure of Noah's heart is simply not amenable to the two-ventricle repair that they had planned for Noah, and they instead performed the Fontan procedure on his heart. What does this mean? Instead of Noah's blue blood being pumped into his lungs to get oxygenated, Noah's blue blood now totally bypasses his heart and instead passively flows directly into his lungs to be oxygenated.

Over the next few days, please join us in praying that
- the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified in everything
- Noah would begin to drink more so that he won't need to be put back on IV fluids
- Peace and patience will prevail in ALL of us as Noah becomes more wakeful, restless (and almost assuredly MAD)
- Our other 2-year old, Elisabeth (who is having a ball back at home with the undivided attention of BOTH grandmothers) will not be spoiled TOTALLY beyond repair

Noah ended up being in ICU for 5 days, and a step-down room for 4 additional days. That, along with the self-imposed isolation for weeks before the surgery, and near-isolation for weeks after the surgery...this time in our lives was the hardest thing I've ever been through, bar none. I'm sitting here crying as I think back and type this. Looking back, my first reaction is: I don't know how we made it through this time...I could never do that again.

BUT, actually I do know how we were able to do it...God. And I know that if He called us to do it again, we could...with His help. During that time - just like today - just like He did with the Israelites wandering in the dessert for 40 years - He provided us our daily Manna. Exactly what we need for that day...no more, and certainly no less.

And today, we remember what the Lord did for Noah...and for us...and we give Him the praise He so richly deserves.


  1. Thanks for sharing your blog on china heart!! Congrats to the 4 year anniversary!!!

    You have a beautiful family!! It was fun to read through your blog!!

  2. Joli,
    This touched my heart so....

  3. I remember this from 2 years ago, it is amazing how far he has come along. So glad he is s strong boy now.

  4. Joli, I loved reading this post and hearing of God's amazing faithfulness!! Having just been through our one month hospital stay with Isabelle and her Glenn, I can SO relate to the Lord is how you got through all of that!! Amen and Amen! Isn't it great that we serve such an awesome and faithful Lord who not only brings our children to our family from across the ocean but loves them even more than we do (is that possible???):) Hugs: Elaine www.thehortonhome.blogspot.com

  5. Joli,

    Beautiful post. So glad your son is doing well. So glad God is in charge!

    Janet, Kevin, Ted, Philip, and Elijah

  6. Thank you Jesus for His healing Jehovah Rapha touch...and thank you for little Noah....and the family that God has blessed you with...they are BEAUTIFUL!! Yippee Jesus!

    Thank you for doing a Memorial Box MOnday post...xo



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