Braden's Story:

(August 17, 2006 - March 17, 2009)

"when someone you love becomes a memory the memory becomes a treasure"

On August 17, 2006 we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy, Braden Gregory Petska.  Our luminous glow was dimmed just two days later when told our son was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Four life-altering words we never thought possible, due to a flawless pregnancy and delivery.  Over the next few days, we were given a crash-course on the anatomy of the heart and Braden's HLHS.  We were also introduced to the medical staff who would ultimately give Braden a second chance at life.

Because the part of his heart that did not develop was his left ventricle (major pumping chamber), we were told of three options we had for Braden: a heart transplant, three open heart surgeries, or letting nature take its course. We felt that choosing the three stage palliation would give Braden a better chance at survival and the opportunity to live a "normal life."   

On August 23 (ironically his due date), Braden underwent his first open heart surgery, the Norwood procedure.  This was performed by Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. James Tweddell, at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  Post-operatively, he received the undivided attention of Intensivist Dr. Nancy Ghanayem, Cardiologist Dr. Joseph Cava, and the amazing medical staff at CHW.  Thirty-one days later, we were finally able to welcome home our precious, new addition.

In the next two months, we surrounded ourselves in all of the joy and fun that new parenting experiences bring.  We were sent home on a monitoring system which included weighing Braden, checking his oxygen saturation, and documenting everything he ate.  Monitoring Braden also included bi-weekly visits to his cardiologist and weekly contacts with the nurse practitioners at Children’s.  As you can imagine, this kept us very busy in the short time we had between surgeries.

On November 6, Braden had a scheduled echo and heart catheterization to check his heart, blood flow, and the size of his veins & arteries.  This was all in preparation for his second surgery, the Bi-directional Glenn. 

On November 29, Braden underwent his second open heart surgery at CHW by Dr. Tweddell.  This surgery was much different yet easier for Braden’s body to tolerate.  After only 8 days in the hospital, we were able to come home. 

Braden was monitored for the next two years only through cardiologist and pediatrician visits.  He was a thriving toddler who amazed the doctors with his charm, intellect, and wit.  His third surgery, the Fontan, was scheduled for June 15th, 2009.  Although there was a bit of anxiety leading up to this day, it was lifted with the expectant arrival of a new sibling for Braden on June 1st, 2009.

On March 17th, 2009, our precious Braden earned his angel wings.  It was all very sudden and unexpected as he never showed signs of weakness or illness.  There are really no words to express the loss of our little "B" who was so perfect and precious.  With Braden, we’ve had the privilege of experiencing life, hope, promise, and new beginnings.  We’ve also witnessed the power of prayer many times throughout Braden’s journey.  Everyday we are so thankful for the 2.5 years he blessed and enriched our lives.  He will forever be our hero, our strength, and proudly our son.

During this amazing journey, we have met so many people who have enriched our lives.  From the amazing medical staff to families who have walked in our shoes.  Our lives are forever changed.

The foundation of our strength was built by the love and support from our family, friends, and surrounding communities.  They have inspired us to create this charity, so we can "give back."  We know the amount of support that is needed to make this journey, emotionally and financially.  The Heart of Gold Charity's mission is to lend a helping hand to families whose lives have been touched and forever changed by a congenital heart defect.

Heart of Gold Charity, WI

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