March 3rd, 2014 9:35 pm by SUE GUINN LEGG
Seven-year-old Weston Keeton will undergo an unprecedented post-transplant heart valve surgery on Wednesday. (Photo Contributed)
Weston Keeton, the 7-year-old Blountville boy who underwent a heart and double lung transplant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in December, will undergo an unprecedented post-transplant heart valve surgery Wednesday.
His mother, Julie Keeton, said there are many unknowns about the surgery and the family is requesting prayers.
In an update posted early Monday morning on the Weston’s Warriors Facebook page, Julie Keeton reported, “Weston’s support has been increased over the past few hours. He is on more sedation to keep him calm, on the big vent to give his lungs more support, and on nitric to help with the pressures in his heart and lungs.”
In a note to the Johnson City Press on Saturday, his mother said his main issue is his tricuspid valve.
“His valve is very leaky, so on Wednesday the surgeon will go in and repair/replace the valve. Surgery on a heart post-heart/lung transplant is unheard of but Weston cannot continue to recover without the operation.
“His medical team has been busy preparing us for many of the unknowns. We have faith that God will take care of Weston and that he is in the very best hands here at CHOP.”
The family plans to make the most of their time with Weston until Wednesday’s surgery and had hoped he would be stable enough to go outside in the snow Monday. But in addition to his valve trouble, Weston has air trapped in the wall of his bowel, a condition known as pneumatosis, which was making him miserable prior to being placed on the larger ventilator and heavier sedation early Monday.
Weston’s father, Adam Keeton, drove from Tennessee to Philadelphia in Monday’s snowstorm. By late that afternoon, Weston was feeling better and managed to smile for a photo his mother posted for his many Facebook fans.
His doctors scheduled the surgery late last week after Weston’s condition plummeted. On his page at the Children’s Organ Transplant Association website, his mother reported, “Operating on a heart so soon after a heart/lung transplant has never been done before that anyone knows of. They are hoping to get some fluid off of Weston between now and then to give (him) the best chance of survival.
“Adam and I have such mixed feelings about it. No one wants to see their child go through another surgery, but maybe this is what it will take to finally give him the quality of life that we want for him.
“It is painful to watch him suffer like this. He is crying because not only does he feel terrible from his heart but he also can’t eat or drink from the pneumatosis. It has been a long road and we are all exhausted.”
She said the family is very grateful for the support Weston has received from people who are following his story online and who have caused her to believe Weston is “one of the most loved little boys in the world.”
“I want to thank everyone for proving that there is a lot of good left in the world,” she said. “So many people have changed their pictures, planned out signs for their kids to post to support Weston, planned to wear red on Wednesday to support him and for that we are so thankful. It is amazing to have the Tri-Cities and Philadelphia and a ton of places in between cheering Weston on.
“Please keep posting and tagging me or Adam Keeton. If your sports team, church, school, small group or family is praying for him, send me a pic. As we start to wake Weston up and prepare him for the surgery this week, we are going to show him just how many people love him and are cheering for him.”
You can also read about Weston’s early struggles with his condition by following the link here.