The ‘will’ to survive a heart defect

A family’s journey of ups, downs — and hope

Few other moments in life compare to the joy of finding out you’re expecting a baby. And with today’s technology, parents can monitor their baby’s development as he grows in the womb. For Lindsey and Greg Bironas, this proved to be bittersweet.

When Lindsey was just 12 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound revealed fluid in the Bironases’ unborn child’s tiny lung cavities. This type of diagnosis often is caused by a chromosome abnormality, which usually means chances are slim the baby would survive in the womb or very long after birth.

Over the course of several more ultrasounds and tests, the fluid vanished and so did the concern about a chromosome abnormality. All signs pointed to a congenital heart defect, which led the Bironases to a pediatric cardiologist who did further testing and was able to tell their baby would need heart surgery shortly after birth.

While not the news any parent wants to hear, the Bironases viewed it as a blessing — they were able to prepare themselves for what to expect when their baby was born.

On Oct. 10, 2011, baby William was born at Norton Hospital. He seemed like a healthy boy with big blue eyes and blonde hair. They chose his name because he had such a strong “will” to survive against the odds.

William immediately was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Norton Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with hypoplastic aortic arch, a life-threatening congenital heart defect. William underwent open heart surgery just seven days after birth and was on track for a successful recovery.

Several months later, bad news struck again. William’s heart was not growing properly, so he had to undergo another procedure. It wasn’t until Christmas 2012 that the Bironas family received the best gift they could ask for — the procedure was a success and William’s heart was doing great!

Through the doubt, fear and shock the Bironases experienced, William remained a champ. Today, he is an active 4-year-old who is a great swimmer, plays soccer and tee-ball, and keeps up with his older brother.

One in every 110 children in the U.S. is born with a congenital heart defect. For more than 50 years, Norton Children’s Hospital has been dedicating to helping brave-hearted kids like William. Now we are expanding our heart care services to meet their growing needs.

You can help us by participating in the Norton Children’s Hospital Splash ‘n’ Dash 5k Walk/Run on Saturday, Aug. 6 at Beckley Creek Park. A family-friendly 1k option also is available.

William is the 2016 honoree of the Splash ‘n’ Dash 5k. Show your support by taking part as a walker or runner. Register now.