GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - I used to think doctors were paid too much until two of them saved my son's life.
Our baby boy, Max, came into this world with the cards stacked against him. Before birth we knew he would live with the disabilities that come with Down Syndrome. But an even scarier event was the moment they told us his heart was severely defective. He couldn't live more than 2 to 3 years with his condition called "AV Canal."
The tears, the sorrow, every emotion you can imagine invades your mind and soul. You feel terrified, almost paralyzed with doubt and fear.
We will never think of the American Heart Association in the same way. You see, their multi-million dollar funding of research through the years is what enabled Dr. Dennis Mello and Dr. Sean Setty to perform what we consider to be a small miracle.
They told my husband Ben and me, "We will take his walnut size heart and build a septum to separate the one chamber into four and turn his one faulty valve into two valves that will be able to send his body the oxygen it needs to live."
Can you imagine the training, the sacrifice, the courage and the steady hand is takes to promise young parents you will return their most precious gift, their child, back to them alive after a grueling nine hour surgery.
He couldn't make promises about anesthesia or complications or even that there will be no leaks and maybe another surgery down the road. But when they came to take Max out of my arms and into surgery, the tears I shed were more of relief and gratitude than fear.
These skilled surgeons took SO much time reassuring us and showed such concern and care for Max that we had faith he was in the right hands.
Born March 6, 2010, Maximilian Allen Powers was a robust 8 pounds, 15 ounces. Within 8 weeks, he dwindled down to just 7 pounds. Our son who couldn't smile, barely eat or move, with blue lips and hands was made whole again. Now four months old and 11 pounds, he lights up every day of our lives. Each gummy grin and coo is a major milestone giving us reason to celebrate.
Thank God for the American Heart Association, Ochsner Foundation of New Orleans and Drs. Dennis Mello and Sean Setty, who have nerves of steel and hearts of gold.