Gage’s Story

By Marti Lindsey

Today Gage is an almost one year old with a toothless smile and a love of lollipops. He sits in his Bumbo seat and watches cartoons with his brother or on his mother’s lap stroking her face.

Due to the dedication of Gage’s team of professionals at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, he’s a healthy child with a positive prognosis. This wasn’t always the case.

Gage’s journey started a short six hours after he was born. His echocardiogram showed a heart that wasn’t functioning normally. Gage was born with a full AV Canal heart defect.

What that means is that his heart should have four chambers and two valves, but Gage was born with a heart with two chambers and one valve.

Gage’s first trip back to the hospital happened during his first week of life.

“Gage stopped breathing and turned blue,” said Mary Neesham, Gage’s mother.

This was the first of six hospitalizations in his short life. Gage had failure to thrive, which is a direct result of his heart not working properly.

“The poor baby was sleeping 23 hours a day,” said Mary. “He had trouble breathing and was very tired.”

At three months old Gage was hospitalized and had a “G-Tube” surgically inserted so he could get his nutrition directly. Several weeks later Gage went into congestive heart failure and had to have open heart surgery.

Gage underwent an extended two-part open heart surgery and then in another surgery had his mitral valve replaced four days later. His chest remained open for a week, covered by a large piece of surgical tape.

This was a very scary time for the Neesham family. With the support of his mommy, daddy, Greg, brother, Gavin and grandmother, Lauren, Gage began his slow recovery.

Gage’s team at RCHSD helped to get Gage off the ventilator and then wean him off the strong narcotics that he was taking.

After a month in the hospital, Gage finally got to go home.

“The day we left the hospital, I realized that Gage had spent more than half his life there,” said Mary.

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