A Second Chance for Owen

February 25, 2019
Topics: Heart (cardiology), Riley Kid Story

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The Shetler Family

Identical twin 4-year-olds Owen and Evan Shetler like to get a little wild when they play. One time, they even ripped a curtain rod off the wall. But parents Chris and Robin Shetler of Goshen, Ind., aren’t complaining. There was a time when they worried their boys would never have the chance to play together.

Right after birth, it became clear something was wrong with Owen. “He was kind of lifeless and gray, they had to resuscitate him a little bit,” recalls Chris. Owen was first sent to a larger local hospital in South Bend, then airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Doctors determined Riley was best-equipped to help him survive a life-threatening heart condition: transposition of the great arteries. 

After his first open-heart surgery, Owen faced complications and needed to be put on the life support system known as ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) for four days. Several weeks later he went into cardiac arrest, and doctors placed Owen on ECMO a second time to save his life. As he fought to recover, Riley Child Life Specialists supported his entire family, including older brother Cayden. After 75 days at Riley, and several heart procedures performed by Riley Heart Surgeon Mark Rodefeld, M.D., and Riley Pediatric Cardiologist Mark Hoyer, M.D., Owen was able to go home. “They saved my son’s life,” says Chris. “I get to hold him and play with him, and have all the firsts, and I was afraid I would never get to do that with him.” 

Today, the Shetler family is grateful to everyone who donates to support Riley, including Chris’ father. Ellis Shetler’s generous gift allowed the family to dedicate a Riley wagon in Owen’s honor. “We owe so much to Riley…it made me proud,” says Chris. “Riley is an amazing place. They took care of our whole family.”

Learn more at BeTheHopeNow.org

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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