Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baby Jordan was in the Hays Daily News

From the Hays Daily News

Tragedy leads parents to lend help to others


Michael and Brandi LaFond experienced tragedy last fall when their infant son, Jordan, died.

But they didn't let it drag them down.

Instead, the LaFonds said the incident strengthened their family and faith. They found hope and a way to find a silver lining to the situation. Because of that, the LaFonds are partnering with the American Red Cross to have a blood drive in memory of Jordan from Tuesday through Friday at the Red Cross blood donor center, 208 E. Eighth.

"You think everything has to work out to have hope in something," Michael said. "We really learned by going through this that's not the case."

Michael & Brandi LaFond. Picture taken by Raymond Hillegas ~ Hays Daily News.

Jordan was diagnosed with a birth defect known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia on June 1 while they were getting a routine sonogram. CDH is a rare condition where a baby is born without a diaphragm, causing the rest of the organs to push against the heart and lungs, which can lead to a child's death.

Brandi was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and they were expecting to see the baby for the first time and learn the sex of their child. They weren't expecting that news.

"We were shocked," Michael said.

At first, they thought it might have been a mistake, but after getting a second opinion, they knew it was true. They immediately got to work, researching the condition and finding hospitals that are the best at treating the condition. Though they considered a hospital in Kansas City because it was starting up a CDH unit, they instead chose Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, because of its doctors' extensive experience with the ailment.

"We tried everything we could to give him the best shot we could," Michael said.

They lived in Philadelphia with a host family from Aug. 18 until Oct. 18, when Jordan was delivered, and from Oct. 20 until late November at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. Though it didn't work out, Brandi said she appreciated the extensive help everyone provided while they were there.

"Our host family was very giving," Brandi said. "When my parents came up to visit us, they lent them their own car and allowed them to stay there, too."

After Jordan's birth, he was moved from a ventilator to an oscillator and then to a machine that works for the heart and lungs.

"It was so hard to see my baby hooked up to all of those machines," Brandi said.

Because of his lack of a diaphragm, Jordan's liver grew and pushed on his heart and lungs.

"Infants (with CDH) who don't have their liver up have a 90-percent chance of survival," Brandi said. "With the liver being up, it pushes it way below 50 percent."

To correct this, surgeons put an artificial diaphragm from rib to rib and moved the organs back to their proper places. Michael said the experience was draining.

"I've never been involved in anything my whole life where in one day, you can go from extreme everything is falling apart to everything is OK," he said.

However, the damage to the heart was too much, and he died of pulmonary hypertension.

"(With pulmonary hypertension) the blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels is really high," Brandi said. "It puts pressure on them, so the right side of the heart works harder. Eventually, the right side of the heart gives out, because it is working too hard to pump the blood through the pulmonary vessels."

Jordan died Nov. 21 at 34 days old.

"The amazing staff at CHOP gave Jordan a chance at life, and it gave my 3-year-old son Caleb a chance to say 'goodbye,' " Brandi said. "We are thankful for everyone who tried to help Jordan survive."

Helping Red Cross

During his short life, Jordan needed 5,440 milliliters of packed red cells, 829 milliliters of platelets and 1,840 milliliters of frozen plasma. Brandi said it made her learn firsthand the importance of the American Red Cross.

"With Jordan being on ECMO and getting multiple blood transfusions, we just realized how important giving blood is," she said.

Because of that, Brandi reached out to the American Red Cross in Hays about having a memorial blood drive for Jordan. They made it so it would coincide with CDH Awareness Day on Saturday. Catherine Younger, an American Red Cross donor recruitment representative, said her organization was happy to work with the LaFonds on the event.

"Any time you can put a face with the need, it kind of hits the heart a little bit," Younger said.

Donors can make an appointment by calling (800) RED-CROSS, but walk-ins also are welcome.

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