20 May 2010

Sheridan's Open-Heart Surgery

First, a ridiculously adorable picture of Sheridan to put a smile on everybody's face before they read on...

On Sunday we leave for Stanford, we have a 6-8 hour pre-op appointment on Monday, and surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

Many of our friends and family have asked for more information about Sheridan's heart defects, how they will be fixed, etc. So, taking a cue from Pudge & Zip's mom (thank you for all your support, Courtney!), I turned to the Children's Heart Institute of Virginia for a few images to help me explain (I'm a bit of a visual learner and I thought these were great)...


Think of your heart as a house with:

4 rooms (chambers)
4 doors (valves)
4 BIG hallways (vessels)
4 little hallways (vessels)

It would look like this...


Sheridan's got two of these suckers... basically, they are holes in the wall between the two ventricles. Here's what his heart house looks like (notice the hole in the wall between the bottom two rooms):

To repair his VSDs, his surgeons will use Sheridan's own pericardial tissue to "patch" the hole. Eventually his heart tissue and the patch will become one and grow with him. Here's the best way to envision that patch job:


In the cardiothoracic surgery world, a PFO and an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) are essentially synonymous. The terms get used interchangeably. The PFO/ASD is a hole in the wall between the two atriums (the top two chambers of the heart). Here's what it looks like using the house (notice the hole in the wall between the top two rooms):

Sheridan's surgeons expect to be able to close the PFO with sutures. No patch needed. But just for illustration purposes, here's what his heart will look like after the sutures close the hole in that wall:


This one is a bit different. It has nothing to do with the walls in the heart. The PDA is actually something that we are ALL born with, believe it or not. It's a critical piece of fetal blood flow. The difference is, most PDAs close naturally within the first couple days of life.

Sheridan's didn't close, so now what he has is an open vessel that connects the oxygen-rich blood in the aorta to the blood in the pulumonary artery (that takes blue blood to the lungs to oxygenate it). So, his pulmonary artery is carrying some oxygenated blood to his lungs. A big no-no.

Here's a healthy heart (images thanks to the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York):

Here's a heart with a PDA:

Sheridan's surgeons will suture this hole, also.

So there you have it...


I want to thank every single friend (including my blogging friends from around the world!) and family member that has reached out to us and shared their stories with us. Talking with parents who have had a child go through the same surgery has given us MANY tricks and tips to help us survive the waiting and healing, and most importantly has given us ideas about how to make Sheridan's healing and coping go as smoothly as possible.

I still have no idea how the surgical team will pry Sheridan from my arms on Tuesday morning, but I do feel that he is in good hands.

I will post frequent updates the day of the surgery and during his recovery at the hospital and at home. We know we have a road ahead of us, it might be short, or could be long. But I know Sheridan is super strong and healthy and will kick this surgery's butt!

Here's to rockin' the scar!


  1. Those are great photos!

    So basically, Sheridan has a heart house with a nice open layout ;)
    He's going to do fantastic, Lisa! I just know it! He's such a strong and healthy little guy!

    We'll be here for you every step of the way!

  2. Gorgeous photos and PERFECT explanation! Thank you!!!!

  3. Wow, this was so informative, thanks for the awesome explanation & pictures, Lisa! You are constantly in my thoughts & prayers. You are both so strong, and will get through this no doubt. Lots of LOVE!!!

  4. Beautiful boy, Beautiful pics! Wow you explained that well. I don't think I even did that well in explaining Wysdom's AVSD. Just to let you know that we are thinking and praying for you and I have the big date written on our fridge calendar. I actually just looked at it today as Sheridan's name is written 2 days away from Wysdom's one year mark. I remember the pre-op day and night before so well. I just watched my baby sleep while I snuggled with him all night. Yes i was good all morning until I handed him over. It will be hard. Just know we will all be thinking of you at that time. Actually what time is the surgery on that day? It would be good to know so we can all send good energy and prayers at that time.

  5. Awesome photos of Sheridan, great explanation and diagrams of his heart issues. Can't wait to see the handsome boy when his heart is all better. We'll be sending virtual hugs and saying many prayers throughout the process.

  6. I just can't stop thinking about you! I can't wait until you post a picture of that adorable boy w/his rockin scar! xoxo!

  7. Wow, he's a handsome fella! You all are in my prayers!

  8. What a wonderful explanation and pictures (where were you when Whitney was having her surgery? I would have just posted a direct link to this post to explain to everyone... GREAT pictures and explanations!)
    We will be thinking about you this weekend and especially this Monday and Tuesday :) keeping you in our prayers, too!

  9. As always, you have explained everything beautifully - boy, I wish you were one of my professors. I cannot express to you how much the Capell family loves you, Gary and Sheridan. Please know that we are thinking of you every step of the way. Please call if you need anything! Go Sheridan!

  10. He is so adorable! I love the pics and the great explanations! We will pray for you on this journey that you are embarking on! Look forward to hearing the updates and I know he is going to rock that scar!

  11. Sending virtual hugs and warm thoughts to you and that beautiful, beautiful boy.

  12. Oh my those photos are too precious. He looks like such a big boy! He is adorable!

    Amazing description of Sheridan's heart. I still can't completely explain all that was involved with Madi's and I swear I studied those diagrams for hours. :) You guys will be in our thoughts and prayers. Please get in touch if you need anything or have any questions. I am anxious for you guys to be able to put this day behind you. You guys will do great!

  13. What a wonderful post! I'll be praying for Sheridan and all of you too! I LOVE this pictures of your baby. :-)

  14. Thinking of you as you prepare for the surgery. Sheridan is just too, too cute. These pics are precious. I have a feeling he'll do great this week. I hope mommy and daddy get some rest and feel comfort during all of it, too. Love to you all from Ohio!!

  15. I'll be thinking of you and praying while Sheridan is having his surgery.Praying that God guides the surgeon's hands and for Sheridan's quick recovery.Please give him kisses and hugs from Ruby and I.Love to both of you.
    Love the pictures.Sheridan is such a good looking boy :)

  16. I have been thinking of you and Sheridan and will be praying for you this week! I love the diagrams and will be passing them on to some of our family who can't seem to grasp how the repair is going to work. :) I hope you have a wonderday day Monday with plenty of snuggle time. I know Tuesday will be hard...Once you get through the first few days I'd love to pick your brain and see what I need to know, bring for ours...

  17. Lisa and Gary

    We love you guys and are sending extra good energy your way. Wish we could be closer right now. We're thinking of you all.

    Ryan & Amy

  18. Best of luck! We are praying for you and your family.

  19. Praying everything goes smoothly for you. Good luck!

  20. We're thinking of you, friend. Please let us know if there's anything you need.