Jack Stevens may be the toughest, and happiest, baby you’ll ever meet. In just 15 short months on this planet, the spirited little guy has undergone what for most of us would be a medical nightmare that may be too much to endure. But not for Jack, who, after nine surgeries and even a stroke, is now finally home with his parents.
This amazing little lad hails from the town of Hartlepool in County Durham, England, where he was born on December 10, 2013. His parents, 30-year-old engineer Chris Stevens and Ashton Hodge, 27, who works for a local charity, knew before Jack was born that he would suffer from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
That’s a congenital condition which prevents the left side of a baby’s heart from developing properly, meaning a child is born with only half of a functioning heart. While babies born with the condition generally seem normal at birth, they will quickly become out of breath and require at least three separate surgeries to have a hope of survival.
But little Jack Stevens had four open heart surgeries, plus five related operations. Not only did he have a stroke after being released from the hospital in April of last year, the baby has clinically “died” and required resuscitation by doctors not just once but three times.
In fact, Jack’s first surgery came at the age of just one week.
But Jack miraculously survived all of that and is now home, where he is struggling happily to take his first steps and even mouth his first words.
“He’s been through so much in such a short space of time but he’s doing brilliantly,” ‘said dad Chris. “Jack was only 4 pounds, 4 ounces when he was born and the condition has slowed his development. It was really difficult watching him lying in his hospital bed for so long surrounded by machines and tubes. But we knew it was best for him and he’s battled through everything — he’s a real fighter.”
He must be. About four of every 10 babies who go through three surgeries for the condition do not survive. But even though there is no known cure for the condition, with the right treatment, babies can not only survive but grow into children who can lead productive children lives.
“It’s a lifelong condition,” said Chris. “He’ll never be able to do any real physical activity.
It won’t be easy, as Jack already requires several different daily medications. Doctors say that at some point he will require a heart transplant. But for now, little Jack Stevens has already proved the power of the human heart.
[Image: Ashton Hodge Facebook]