11-year-old boy prepares for 3rd heart surgery

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:34 AM EDT
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BARNESVILLE, Minn. (KVLY/Gray News) – An 11-year-old boy in Minnesota is preparing to have his third open heart surgery since he was born.

Isaac Douglas’ doctors might describe his existence as a medical miracle. They told his mother Tasha Douglas he would likely die in utero or shortly after birth.

“I was told I was going to miscarriage at the beginning of the pregnancy,” Douglas said.

Pre-natal testing confirmed Isaac would have some heart problems, and he was later diagnosed with DiGeorge syndrome at just days old.

DiGeorge syndrome is a random genetic mutation where a person is missing a portion of the 22nd chromosome, according to the Mayo clinic.

As an infant, Isaac needed a feeding tube. He also had a stroke at just two weeks old and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“It was a lot. I think for a long time I was in shock with everything to be honest,” Douglas said.

Because of his condition, Issac’s artery from his heart to his lungs didn’t fully develop.

“Unfortunately, as time went on, they noticed the vessels were pinching shut,” Douglas said. “We were told he wouldn’t actually make it to one because they couldn’t proceed with any form of surgery. They said the world’s smallest needle couldn’t do anything to those vessels because of how small they were.”

Issac needed heart surgery from a specialist in California at just one month old.

“I just watched him get bluer and bluer every day,” Douglas recalled. “It finally got to the point where they transferred him down there and he did have the surgery.”

The first surgery was known as prep for a second surgery, which he had in California within the same year.

Douglas said the second surgery was the full repair where surgeons put in a conduit so blood would flow easier from his heart to his lungs.

As part of DiGeorge syndrome, Isaac has low calcium, a weakened immune system and autism.

Isaac is currently non-verbal and uses a device to communicate. Now, several years after his initial surgeries, he needs another one. However, where and when is still up in the air.

“The hardest part has been the not knowing what the direct plan is,” Douglas said.

Despite all the medical complications and life changes, the family remains hopeful. While Isaac’s health and heart struggle physically, the soul within the four chambers needs no mending.