Bryson's Brave Battle
Bryson Kenneth Faus was born on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. It was one of the most joyful days of his parents’ lives.
March 6, 2013, was one of the scariest.
Brian and Caitlin Faus learned that their firstborn child had a life-threatening congenital heart defect. While they struggled to process this terrifying news, things started happening fast. Caitlin noticed a helicopter landing outside their window at DuPont Hospital in Fort Wayne.
“I remember saying, ‘I have a feeling that’s for Bryson,’” recalls Caitlin. She was right. Doctors determined that Bryson’s best chance for survival was a Lifeline flight to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “We were told to take pictures, because they didn’t know if he would make it there,” says Caitlin.
At Riley Hospital, pediatric heart surgeon Mark Rodefeld, M.D., took time to carefully explain Bryson’s condition to Caitlin and Brian. Then, he explained it all again to Bryson’s grandparents when they arrived, taking that burden off the stressed couple’s shoulders. “It was a relief. It was pressure off,” recalls Brian. “He answered every last question. He never made it feel rushed.”
“It’s extremely important to give parents hope that their child can be okay,” says Dr. Rodefeld, a father of three. “I would want to have that kind of communication and message if it was my child.”
Because Bryson had a kidney inflammation condition known as bi-lateral hydronephrosis as well as a complicated series of heart defects (interrupted aortic arch, ventricular septal defect and a small aortic valve)
many Riley specialists worked together with Dr. Rodefeld to coordinate his care. Those specialists included pediatric cardiologists Tiffanie Johnson, M.D., and Mark Hoyer, M.D., surgeon Scott Engum, M.D., and pediatric urologist Richard Rink, M.D., who is part of the renowned urology team that ranks second in the nation. “My job doesn’t stop with caring for the heart, we care for the whole patient,” explains Dr. Rodefeld.
Dr. Rodefeld performed Bryson’s first open-heart surgery, the Norwood procedure, when Bryson was 6 days old. Then, after Bryson reached 7 months, Dr. Rodefeld performed a version of the Rastelli procedure called the Yasui, closing the hole between Bryson’s heart chambers and adding a bovine valve to create a more stable circulation. Bryson also needed several ureteral stent surgeries to help with his kidney problems and a G-tube to deliver nutrition, since his weak circulation made feedings difficult.
Today, Bryson is back home in Fort Wayne, walking, talking, eating and growing like a typical toddler. He will need surgery in the future to replace his heart valve, but his outlook is great. “Without Riley, Bryson might not be here today,” Caitlin says.“Riley is most definitely a blessing, and a place that provides so many families with hope. We are forever grateful.”
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