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Hope in the Face of Heartbreak

No mother expects daydreams of planning her newborn’s nursery to be overshadowed by thoughts of funeral plans. But those were parallel realities that haunted Jamie Bolen when a 20-week ultrasound revealed her son Bryce’s heart was underdeveloped on the left side, a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“We walked out of the hospital in a daze,” Jamie says. “It was one of the worst days of my life.”

Crucial Care

Immediately after birth, Bryce was transported to Children’s Mercy Hospital where he underwent his first open-heart surgery.

“Bryce was being born with just half a heart. A heart should have two pumping chambers and his just had one,” says James E. O’Brien Jr., MD, Co-Director of The Ward Family Heart Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

The Rebuilding Process

By the time Bryce was in kindergarten, he’d braved three major surgeries to reconstruct his heart, as well as numerous other procedures and hospital visits, including a difficult six months treating fluid build-up around his heart.

“Just as I was starting to lose all hope of ever getting him well again, we got the miracle we had been hoping for,” says Jamie. “The fluid decreased and his lab work began to be normal once again.”

Back in Action

Now in second grade, Bryce is very active and enjoys playing baseball, flag football and even riding dirt bikes.

“He likes to show off his ‘battle scars,’” Jamie laughs.

Bryce’s biggest hurdles are now behind him, but there will be challenges in the future. He continues to have regular visits to the Cardiology Clinic at Children’s Mercy. 

“I would absolutely recommend Children’s Mercy,” Jamie says. “It is great place with wonderful nursing care and amazing, talented doctors.”

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