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Miracle Monday: Meet Cooper!

When Cooper was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, his parents, Alicia and Brett, thought that would be the worst they’d have to worry about. However, during an appointment just a few days after his birth, Alicia was told, “He needs to go to the ER right now. Don’t speed, don’t stop anywhere, just go straight there. We’ll call ahead.”

Two hours of testing followed, and when Cooper was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit staff had to immediately intubate him. “They said, ‘Your son is extremely sick.’ We were shocked. We went from thinking maybe he had jaundice or was a little dehydrated to your son’s really, really sick,” said Alicia.

While in the ER, the doctors couldn’t locate Cooper’s aorta, the body’s largest artery, which supplies blood throughout the body. And they soon found out why: Cooper’s was so narrow that hardly any blood was passing through, which meant his major organs weren’t getting oxygen. His kidney and his liver were on the verge of failure, and doctors worried too about lack of blood to his brain.

Cooper needed surgery to repair his aorta, but the first step was to get his tiny, 6-plus-pound body strong enough to withstand surgery. Finally, about a month after he was born, his lungs were healthy enough and doctors told Alicia and Brett their son would have heart surgery the next day. The worry came flooding back: Cooper would be on ECMO, a machine that would do the work of his heart and lungs during surgery. After surgery, he’d still be connected to multiple tubes—just as he was in those early days in the PICU. But this time, one by one, the tubes quickly came out.

Cooper should never need surgery again, although he still goes back for regular follow-ups. “He’s the happiest little baby,” said Alicia. “He’s always smiling. He’s just a normal child at this point who just happened to have heart surgery.”