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Living With Heart Disease & Hope - A Family’s Journey Of Faith (+podcast)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Courtesy of McKayla Rowland

SALUDA, Virginia (K-LOVE – Tracey Lynn) – Two surgeries, an infection, and a stroke - all by the age of 15 months old. His name is Zayden and he sure is a fighter! 

The little guy wasn’t even born yet when the doctor realized something was wrong. It was at a 20-week ultrasound checkup when the news came. Before the appointment was over, the doctor would tell mom, McKayla, that Zayden had a heart defect. 

Zayden had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. That means the left side of his heart was not developed entirely and the right side was doing all the work that both sides should be doing together. With such difficult news, McKayla relied on her faith. She tells K-LOVE News, “I was praying because I felt something was wrong but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong and I didn’t know it was this severe. All I could do was pray. When the doctor sat me down and told me what he (Zayden) had, all I could say was, ‘You know what, it’s not in my hands. It’s in God’s hands. I’m not going to even worry about it. What happens…happens.’  From that day on, all I could do is…I gave it all to God.” 

There are different forms of CHD and doctors can discover the condition at various times in a child’s life. According to Lauri Tamberrino, Lead Coordinator of Mended Little Hearts of Charlottesville, CHD is the number 1 birth defect in the country. She says, “It affects 1 in every 110 babies born. That’s about 40,000 babies born every year. Today in the United States, there are more adults living with Congenital Heart Defect than there are kids.  We are getting them to adulthood, so that is a good figure.”

But, Zayden is still very small, and it’s been quite the journey. When he was born, McKayla was only able to give him a kiss and then he was whisked away to be hooked up to machines. She would eventually get to cautiously hold him, being careful not to interrupt the medication that he was being given. As hospital staff prepped him for his first surgery, an artery was hit instead of a vein. They were able to proceed in order to place a stint, but afterwards he had a stroke. At that time, he was not expected to move, talk, see, or hear. Zayden was put on more machines. Unexpectedly, though, he started moving his feet, which was welcomed news. It would be a few months later, Zayden would have a second heart surgery.  After this round, he ended up getting an infection, which McKayla describes as a time where they almost lost him ‘again’. 

Zayden still has CHD (Congenital Heart Disease), but the inspiring news is that he’s walking, running, crying, talking and, as McKayla puts it, “…everything they said he wouldn’t do, he’s doing!”

Zayden’s family has been walking on a journey facing CHD as many other parents have been doing. McKayla understands that loved ones can become exhausted, sad, nervous, and repeatedly ask “Why?” According to McKayla, it’s okay to cry and feel the emotions that come, but it’s important to lean on others. 

At one point, McKayla called Zayden’s cardiologist saying, “I can’t do this. I don’t know what to do.” His response, “Pray.  Go into your son’s room and pray. Just realize, you’ve gotten this far. Just keep pushing on.

When it gets tough for McKayla, she says she turns to God’s promises. She explains, “I just read the Bible and then I’m okay.” That started from the beginning of this process. And every time McKayla got into her Bible, it seemed that one message kept coming across: “It’s in God’s plans,” she said. “The more I prayed, I got in my Bible and it kept saying that He’s getting you ready for something bigger in your life and He’s also getting your child ready for something.”

It fills her with hope to this day. 



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