Little Tempe slugger saved by heart surgery

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By Karla Navarrete

Baseball is a game of waiting, and for one Valley family, patience and tenacity has proved a miracle. The Lane family in Tempe shared their journey after receiving word that their unborn child had a rare heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot.

An innovative surgery at Stanford Children's Hospital saved his life.

"We had predictions he might not live," says Jackson Lane's father, Andy, from their Tempe home.

After showing up for a 20-week ultrasound, Elyse Lane heard the news that made her and her husband's hearts stop: 

"He (the doctor) mentioned to us we should think of terminating because of the burden it was going to be and the fact that he might not make it," she said. 

They told the Lanes that Jackson's chances of survival would be about one percent. Jackson is now 5 months old.

Half of the parents-to-be in their situation opt to terminate the pregnancy.

The Lanes said they weren't giving up on Jackson and would search until finding the right answers.

"It looked like he had five huge chambers in his heart because it was so massive," Elyse Lane said.

So at 36 weeks into the pregnancy she and her husband, Andy Lane, would move to the Bay Area and wait to deliver there.

She gave birth Oct. 10, nearly four weeks early, but a team of 13 doctors were ready to perform a delicate, innovative surgery on Jackson's little heart five days later. The pulmonary artery was so big, it was obstructing Jackson's breathing. The surgery lasted 13 hours.

Elyse Lane remembered a nurse telling her even her motherly touch was not possible.

"'Don't touch him because if he bleeds, he won't stop.' I realized right there ... that I don't get to do this for a while,” Elyse Lane said.

After the surgery, Jackson's chest was left open for 10 days. The swelling needed to come down along with the inflammation in other vital organs.

"My wife and I are fighters, and he kind of thrived on it. And I think as a baby he kept doing it. He was a fighter,” said Andy Lane, a coach with the Chicago Cubs in 2014.

A former minor league ball player, Andy Lane knows about facing adversity, but nothing compares to this, he says.

“I can catch 100 mile per hour pitches, but this is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with,” he said. "We started this process hoping that one day he could be a baseball player, a football player, be a normal kid, and we are there now."

Throughout their stay in California, the family benefited from a charity fund the Major League Baseball has created called Baseball Assistance Team, or BAT. Through BAT funding, the family was able to keep up with out-of-pocket expenses.

The support from the MLB through BAT can be observed throughout the Lane home. From the autographed jerseys to the monetary support, this family says they are forever grateful.

"He doesn't know it yet but he is sponsored by Major League Baseball," Andy Lane said.
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