UPDATE 5 (Final update – w/ picture 7:00 p.m.): My son’s heart surgery

Joshua Falkenstein on the night before his heart surgery 6-23-11

Please forgive me a personal indulgence.  Tomorrow (Friday), my 9-week-old son Joshua will be having heart surgery for a heart defect related to his Down Syndrome.  The surgery will begin at around 7:30 a.m. and will go until late afternoon.  The pediatric heart surgeon performing the operation is a world-class surgeon, so Josh is in the best of hands.  Nevertheless, there is a 5% mortality rate associated with this procedure.

Any positive thoughts and prayers on behalf of Josh would be deeply appreciated.

UPDATE 1 (9:25 a.m.): Josh has been taken into surgery. They are giving us updates every couple of hours. We just got the first update: They have set Josh up on anesthesia and various monitoring lines and made the first incision. Next step is to set him up on the heart-lung bypass machine. I’ll post periodic updates. Please keep thinking positive thoughts and praying for him.

UPDATE 2 (11:00 a.m.) – Josh is now on bypass and doing well with it.  His heart is opened, and the surgery is underway.  He will remain on bypass for about 2 hours.

UPDATE 3 (1:45 P.M.) – The surgery is now concluded, and Josh is off of the bypass machine.  Josh tolerated everything well, and the doctors are confident that his heart has been properly repaired.  Currently they are doing a series of echocardiograms, after which they will close him and prepare to return him to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).  The long and short of it is that Josh is now past the most dangerous parts of this procedure and is doing well.

UPDATE 4 (3:30) – Josh has now been closed up, and they are taking him back to the PICU.  The surgeon should be out soon to talk to us, and we should be able to go see Josh in about an hour.  We’ve been told that he will look terrible – bloated with fluids and lots of tubes and wires sticking out of him – but that he is actually doing well and expected to fully recover and be able to finally get off of the ventilator in a few days.

Josh after his heart surgery 6-24-11

UPDATE 5 (7:00) – Kim and I met with the surgeon, and he said that the echocardiograms indicate that the surgery was successful.  Josh was returned to the PICU, and Kim and I went to see him.  Despite the warnings we were given that he would look terrible, he actually looked quite good, as you can see in the picture.  They are keeping him sedated and will ween him off of the pain medicine and other medications over the coming days.

The bottom line is that Josh tolerated the surgery well, and it appears to have been successful.  The doctors are optimistic that he will finally be able to get off of the ventilator within the next few days, learn to take a bottle, and go home within the next few weeks.  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers.  Kim and I know that they made a difference.

And most of all, Kim and I want to express our profound respect, admiration, and appreciation to Dr. Muhammad “Ali” Mumtaz, the world-class pediatric cardiac surgeon who, with his excellent team, saved our son’s life today.