Montana Health News

May 23, 2012 1:25 PM by Jill Valley (KPAX News)

KPAX anchor prepares for baby's life saving surgery

MISSOULA- This is a story that hits home for us and so we're sharing with you the story of one of our own members of the KPAX family.

The anticipation of becoming a parent for the first time is exciting and joyous. But there's never a guarantee it will be perfect, and sometimes it's not.

A heartbeat is the melody of new life as well as a blessing for Erin Yost Miller and her husband Matt Miller. The two met as students the University of Montana,

"She was just really, really nice. She's just such a genuine person and that's what I liker about her so much," Matt recalled.

They fell in love, got married in 2009 and after negotiating their career paths, they decided it was time to start their family.

"We were surprised at how quickly it happened. I thought it would take a little bit longer, but..." Erin said.

This winter we got the news Erin was forecasting for two and we waited for that first ultrasound appointment where Erin and Matt would find out if they were having a son or a daughter. It was a day they'll never forget.

"The whole ultrasound appointment went totally normal and we went in to talk with our normal OB-GYN doctor [and] she kind of sat down and you could tell just by the look in her face that she had something else to say," Erin recalled. "She said ‘well we found something too. We think he might have something going on with his heart'."

Their baby boy has what's called a double inlet left ventricle, a congenital heart defect.

"It would not be compatible with living very long [just] a few days to a few weeks is all that this little baby would live without help," explained Dr. Bruce Hardy a pediatric cardiologist.

"There's nothing we could have done. Nothing we did. It just happened," Erin said.

"It is what we would call a mistake of nature," Dr. Hardy told us.

The first weeks of life for baby will be spent in Children's Hospital in Seattle where Erin and Matt's son will undergo the first of three surgeries to fix his heart.

"I kind of thought, worst case scenario, he's not going to make it. But then you realize modern-day technology is so amazing," Erin commented. "I felt a little bit better knowing that we're going to a place where these people specialize in this particular thing. He'll be okay. It's fixable, that's just what I keep telling myself, it's fixable."

"Ninety-nine percent of the time it seems that these kids have normal to pretty normal lives. I mean, they can do stuff, they just might be limited on what they can do, like exerting themselves too much might be a problem, but...typical day-to-day stuff you would never know ," Matt explained.

The ultrasounds give cardiologists some information, but not all, so the heart surgeons will learn more about what is wrong with baby Miller's heart once they perform that first surgery.

Doctor Hardy says these babies have an 80% survival rate and are most at risk in the first six months of life when they're the most fragile. Erin and Matt are now prepared for what their baby is facing.

"Well from what it sounds like the surgery is going to be pretty immediate, in the first week for sure, and then six to eight months would be the second one and then the Fontan procedure [at] three to five years old," Erin said. "He's going to really be used to the hospital.

"He's going to be a pretty luck baby. Can you imagine having Erin and Matt as parents? This is one of the luckiest baby's out there. Unlucky [with] the heart, but incredibly lucky otherwise," Dr. Hardy told us.

Erin and Matt will have the baby in Seattle at the end of July. The first surgery happens once the baby is stable and ready for it.

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