The Broeker family weren’t strangers to the cardiology team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital; their now 6-year old son had open heart surgery when he was just 3 months old. So when mom Amanda discovered 20 weeks into her pregnancy that her third son Zachary would be born with a congenital heart defect too, they knew where to go for the expertise and support Zachary would need.
“When we learned the news about Zachary our hearts were shattered,” Amanda said. “We placed all of our faith in God, Dr. Huddleston and the medical team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. Dr. Huddleston is the best and we knew we wanted to come back to him, we already trusted him.”
Zachary had five major heart defects. This meant he would need a series of open heart surgeries. Amanda told us, “The staff were absolutely amazing at addressing any of our concerns and cheered Zachary and our family along every step of the way.”
Their journey was an emotional and challenging one. Zachary had major complications after stage two of his three-staged surgeries. He was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, advanced life support) twice and had two more open heart surgeries in one month. He made a recovery and was discharged to go home and enjoy the summer. Unfortunately, six weeks later, he was directly admitted to the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) in major heart failure.
“The talks of a heart transplant pretty much came right away. The testing began and Zachary would remain in the hospital until he received his new heart,” Amanda explained. Zachary’s older brother gave his new heart the name Zippy the Hero and Zippy made his appearance on October 6, 2016.
While the Broeker’s were overjoyed that their son would get the miracle he needed, they were also filled with sadness. They knew Zachary’s second chance meant another family was facing their darkest hours. But, they said yes to organ donation and because of that decision Zachary could live and become a healthy toddler. Today, he’s almost 2 years old and loves to play with his older brothers and of course all his fun toys!
Amanda wants other parents to know the importance of organ donation; it’s a choice that can save so many lives. She’s also thankful for all his caregivers, “Especially Dr. Schowengert and the entire transplant team, they’re top notch! At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon you and your child are at an amazing place.”