07/02/07 — Town rallies to help couple with sick child

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Town rallies to help couple with sick child

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 2, 2007 1:45 PM

PRINCETON -- Jaiden Tart was a healthy baby boy until his mother, Heather, stopped helping him breathe.

Born with a debilitating heart condition, it only took the infant a few hours to show signs that something was wrong.

His lips were turning blue.

A sonogram later, Heather and her husband, Travis, watched as their newborn was hooked up to an oxygen machine and rushed to the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill.

"I was broken-hearted, devastated," Heather said. "It was a shock. There are really no words to explain how we felt."

As Jaiden made his way to Chapel Hill in the back of an ambulance, his parents rushed home and packed a bag, dropping their 2-year-old daughter, Hailey Faith, off with relatives.

They traveled west and reached the hospital, where doctors diagnosed their day-old son with a series of heart conditions.

The right side of Jaiden's heart had not completely formed and was not working. And then there was the double inlet ventricle condition, transposition and pulmonary stanosis.

In short, the boy was not getting enough oxygen to his lungs.

Surgery was recommended.

Travis admits he was against the idea. The boy was to young and small to survive it, he said.

Nevertheless, doctors operated on Jaiden June 21, a procedure that improved the blood flow to his lungs and likely saved his life.

"When they first brought him out of surgery, it took another three hours to stabilize him before we could see him," Heather said. "He was not doing that good. He had a chest tube for drainage. They had to break his breast bone and wire it back together. They said it would heal in about eight weeks. He had IVs in his neck and foot."

Jaiden is stable now -- although he will face several additional surgeries as he grows older.

His parents feel "blessed" to see him home.

"He has just come off all the monitors and machines," Travis said. "We are keeping an eye on him all the time. It's scary, but it's going to be all right. The good Lord is with him."

So are his neighbors.

If you walk into some of the businesses in Princeton these days, you might notice a jar on the counter, Jaiden's story taped to the container.

Money raised in the town will help a pair of parents in their early 20s cover their son's medical expenses and prescriptions.

Heather and Travis know the coming months and years will likely be difficult. Money will be tight to say the least.

But they will do whatever it takes to repay those who gave their son a second shot at living.

"(The doctors) told us that if this had happened 30 years ago, there would have been nothing they could have done for Jaiden and he would passed away within a few hours of birth," Heather said. "Surgery saved his life."