WYOMING, Mich. (WZZM) - Only a handful of children are born with the genetic condition where the arteries of the heart are malformed. One young baby was just hours old when he was diagnosed and it took a team from two hospitals to help save him.
Today, 5 months old Grayson Jonker is growing just like he should be but that wasn't always the case, "Pretty much about 20 minutes after he was born they took him right into the nursery and he didn't come back." Grayson's dad David remembers the feeling that something was definitely wrong.
Grayson was turning blue around his lips and fingers. The doctors at Metro Health Hospital needed to make a quick diagnosis in order to save him, "They just said that he was having trouble breathing." says Grayson's mom Michelle.
Doctors decided to transfer Grayson to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. That's where Dr. Ron Grifka and his team of pediatric cardiologists diagnosed Grayson with a genetic disorder called Arterial Veinus Malformation or AVM.
"The heart was structured normal but there was some extra blood vessels that could be causing the blood to shunt away from the lungs causing him to be blue." Only a few children are born with this condition in the United States, Dr. Grifka says Grayson wouldn't have lived past a few weeks without surgery.
"This is one of the more severe cases." Dr. Grifka knew there were two options, cut out half of Grayson's lung or try to plug the arteries and re-route the blood through a cathelab procedure, "The smaller the children get the more you have to be right on every time and it can be real challenging."
The news was unsettling to Grayson's parents, "We were crying you know you don't know what to do he's how many hours old?" says Michelle Jonker.
Dr. Grifka opted for the less invasive procedure that would require him to insert a catheter into Grayson's arteries and plug the ones needed to force the blood to reroute back into his right lung and then to his heart. After four hours the procedure was complete, "We were able to close about 8 different blood vessels in his lungs and increase his oxygen levels up from 70% to 90%." and Dr. Grifka says Grayson's prognosis is good, "He'll be able to run and play like all the other boys and girls."
And it appears he's well on his way. Grayson's oxygen levels are almost normal at 96% and he weigh's 14 pounds, "He's just a happy crazy baby he just had a rough start." says mom.
And o ne that thanks to the cooperation of doctors and two local hospitals he'll live to tell about.
By Valerie Lego