Samuel was wheeled out of his ICU room at 4:30 this afternoon and wheeled back in just after 8:00 this evening. The anesthesiologist said he did really well right up until the very end when they needed to bring him back to ICU, then he "threw a bit of a snit" (that's my boy!!) about having to make the transition. Moving him back and settling him into ICU again was a bit stressful for him and consequently for Chris and I as well. Samuel is resting peacefully now.
The surgery itself is breathtaking. Samuel had virtually no diaphragm at all. His stomach, large intestine, small intestine, liver and spleen were all up in his chest. He has one neat incision about 3 inches long just under his left rib. Through that hole, they pulled all those organs from his chest down into his belly, then built him a diaphragm and stitched it to his rib. The surgeon says he actually has a decent lung on that left side where everything was in addition to the right lung which they already know is adequate or he wouldn't have made it this far. His heart is already moving back towards where it should be.
The next few days are, as everyone reminds us, the "touch and go" phase for Samuel. Of particular concern is that his spleen bled a little when they pulled it down into his abdomen. It was squished and had adhered to some other tissue and they are not sure how fully it will recover. They will be monitoring for internal bleeding and there is a chance that he will have to go back to surgery to have his spleen removed. Samuel is already at risk of infection and is so very little; to lose his spleen and all its immune functions would be extremely hard on him at this point.
They were able to fit all of his organs into the abdomen without leaving an opening post-surgery. They did not want the added infection risks of that opening and then the subsequent surgery to close it if he could accommodate the organs now. So they will be watching him for pressure on his abdomen, especially making sure those organs aren't pressing up on his new diaphragm. There is a long list of other things they will watch over the next few days as well but I have neatly sequestered those away in order to minimize freaking out tendencies.
He looks beautiful. It is amazing. I am in awe and filled with gratitude. I say thank you to everyone who comes near him, over and over. I caught myself looking at our surgeon as she walked away tonight. She is this 30-something, brilliant, kind, down-to-earth woman and I caught myself trying to confirm that her feet actually touch the ground. Seriously.
Such an incredible thing just happened to our not-even-7-pound baby boy. Chris and I are here with him at the hospital and will be through the night and then in shifts over the next several days. I keep having these enormous, spontaneous exhalations and thinking "man, how long have I been holding my breath?!" But then I do it again. I don't expect regular exhaling to begin again just yet.