KSN: Hutchinson family shares son's story during Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week
By Asia Cymone Smith
Andrew and MaKenzie Villarreal were as excited as any first-time parents to welcome their son Brysen into the world.
But when MaKenzie went in for her 18-week scan, they knew something would be different about their journey.
After being referred to a maternal-fetal specialist, the diagnosis came in: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
“He’s essentially a normal, happy baby other than living with half a heart,” MaKenzie said about Brysen – who is now almost two years old.
Brysen has undergone two open-heart surgeries at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. He has another planned for this summer.
“Our amazing cardiothoracic surgeons do a series of surgeries to make sure blue blood goes to the lungs and gets oxygenated and red blood goes to the body,” said Dr. Aliessa Barnes of Children’s Mercy.
Brysen also requires doctor visits every three months. He is currently prescribed daily aspirin.
“It’s put a lot of strain. But it’s so worth it, and I would do it again,” said MaKenzie.
And while Brysen doesn’t look different at first glance, he is one of many kids living with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). Dr. Barnes explained that looking okay doesn’t mean the diagnosis is any less severe.
“The resiliency of the family, obviously the patient, is why I went into pediatrics. Every day, kids teach me what real bravery looks like,” Dr. Barnes said.
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