AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A Montana baby is alive thanks to a rare lifesaving surgery that was performed at Children’s Hospital Colorado last year.
One phone call from a Children’s Hospital Colorado physician changed Rachel and Sean Haderlie’s plans from funeral arrangements to recovery.
On Feb. 2, 2022, Rachel Haderlie went in for her 32-week scan. Something wasn’t right, and their joy quickly turned to fear. This was a high-risk pregnancy, so they chose Children’s Hospital Colorado and met with a fetal cardiologist who discovered that her baby had a very complex heart defect and that it could be deadly.
At 36 weeks, Rachel went into labor in Bozeman, Montana, and had their baby, Drew, via emergency C-section. The Haderlies knew it was likely that their time with baby Drew would be short.
“We started making funeral plans and we were coordinating our other son up there to meet his brother, and we had family members who were going to come and take photos for us,” Rachel said.
A heart transplant was possible, but the wait time was nearly nine months and his chances of survival were slim.
“I think maybe we had some guilt that maybe we weren’t doing everything out there we could for our child, but at the same time we wanted him to have the highest quality of life that he could. Just because we could save him doesn’t mean we should,” Rachel said.
Their Colorado doctor called just to check in and reviewed their latest scans even though the diagnosis didn’t look good. The doctor encouraged the family to fly to Colorado so they could see what they could do for Drew.
Testing showed the left side of his heart was larger than prenatal testing had shown, making him eligible for surgery.
“It was a one-in-a-million find that he had high blood pressure in utero and so the right side looked bigger than it actually was,” Rachel said.
Doctor James Jaggers operated on Drew’s heart for five hours, ultimately saving his life.
“It’s really pretty rare to be able to do a two-ventricle repair in somebody with this kind of anatomy. We really wanted to make sure we understood the anatomy and it’s a very big decision, a very difficult decision to make. Not every institution in the country would offer two ventricle repair,” Jaggers said.
Once the surgery was over, baby Drew was on his road to recovery. Although Drew experienced post-surgery challenges, he was out of the ICU in only two weeks.
Now baby Drew, or “Lucky” as he’s been nicknamed, is surpassing every expectation and reaching the important milestones for a baby.
“He’s beating everything, he’s beating all of the odds and you would never know that he was sick and that’s a real testament to everything that happened in Denver,” Sean said.
They’re not completely out of the woods yet, other surgeries could be possible in the future, but for right now the family is just thankful.