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This year's Heart Walk kid triumphed over rough start

The Lake family: Mike, Luanna, Jacob and Brady (in red).1 / 2
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Five-year-old Brady Lake of Detroit Lakes has enough energy to power a small city, so it might surprise people to learn that a week after he was born, he had to have major surgery to fix a defective heart.

Brady is the local spokesperson for this year's Start! Heart Walk May 14 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.

He appeared at a kick-off luncheon Tuesday at the Lodge on Lake Detroit with his mom, Luanna, dad, Mike, and older brother Jacob.

"Everything was pretty normal the morning of Brady's birth," Luanna told about 30 team leaders and others at the luncheon. "We knew we were going to have a boy and we were going to name him Brady John and we were so looking forward to meeting him," she said. "Little did we know, a morning that started out to be so joyous and full of anticipation would take a turn for the worse."

Brady was born via C-section on Aug. 12, 2003. He weighed 7 pounds, 12-ounces and everything seemed to be going well with the delivery.

Then Luanna "noticed the nurses rubbing Brady's feet out of a corner of my eye, and a slight expression of concern passed between them. Everything was a blur ... someone brought him over to me to see and then whisked him away. I remember thinking 'how odd. Boy, things have changed since I had Jacob -- they must be moving things along a bit faster these days.'"

She found out in the recovery room that wasn't the case. She was told that Brady was having respiratory troubles and would have to be transported to a hospital in Fargo. It was "possibly his lungs, and infection, or his heart," Luanna said.

Dr. Bill Henke was working that day at St. Mary's and he believed the problem was with the baby's heart.

"How fortunate for us that Dr. Henke was the doctor on-call that day," Luanna said. "We found out later he had been through this very same thing a year ago and one week from that day. I can imagine Dr. Henke scratching his head and wondering how in the world this could be happening again ... I believe Dr. Henke was supposed to be there that day to help our son, and we are so very grateful and thank God for him being there."

The doctor believed the problem was "transposition of the great arteries, meaning the two main arteries to the heart were switched around," Luanna said.

Doctors at Innovis in Fargo confirmed that Dr. Henke was right in his diagnosis and the baby was transferred to MeritCare hospital in Fargo, where a pediatric cardiologist performed the Rashkind procedure (or a balloon atrial septostomy), a catheter-based procedure that widens a naturally-occurring hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart.

This allowed the blood to be oxygenated so that Brady could survive until he had surgery to repair his heart.

The next day he was flown to the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. Mike and their son Jacob drove to the Cities and Luanna had to stay behind to recover from the C-section.

"I was discharged on Friday and Brady had open heart surgery on Monday," Luanna said.­­­

"I remember when Dr. Herrington, who performed Brady's heart surgery, described his heart being the size of a walnut. She thought: "And his arteries are way smaller than that -- and you're going to switch them around?"

But the surgery went very well, and Brady's family was relieved to find that their baby boy was going to be just fine.

Brady wasn't out of the woods yet, however. The surgeon had to keep the boy's chest open for three days because of swelling, and then, a week after the surgery, Brady's left lung collapsed.

"So they had to reintubate him and did a bronchioscopic procedure to suction out some mucus from his downed lung, which started air movement right away," Luanna said. "We actually got to watch this on a TV monitor."

And Brady's troubles weren't over yet.

"Shortly after we were moved to a private room, Brady struck a fever," she said, "and they discovered he had bacteria in his blood from the IV in his shoulder. So he had to have a PICC line put in and they started him on antibiotics for two weeks."

He was discharged after being on antibiotics for a week, and his parents had to learn how to administer the antibiotics for the second week.

They were allowed to stay on at the Ronald McDonald House for that second week so they could stay close to the hospital in case of emergencies.

She had high praise for the Ronald McDonald House. "They made us feel right at home, and we were very fortunate to be able to stay there."

A month later, on Sept. 13, they brought Brady home.

Six-month checkups turned into one-year checkups, and since the last visit with he cardiologist in February of 2008, two-year checkups.

Brady is doing great, though he may have to be careful if he gets involved in sports, especially ones that are overexerting. But his parents are taking that issue as it comes.

And Brady got to have the last word at the luncheon Tuesday.

"See you at the Heart Walk," he said in a loud, clear voice. "And let's fight heart disease!"