Heart transplant

Missoula toddler thrives after heart transplant

For Missoula toddler Iver Sturm, the red, white and gray hearts that dot his shirt are more than a carefree image embroidered on children’s clothes.

They testify to his courage, an emblem of his family’s perseverance and, yes, a symbol of love.

Iver, now almost 2 years old, received a heart transplant on April 8, 2021. He was born in Dallas on November 11, 2020 with eight heart defects. His mother, Christy, was warned during her pregnancy that Iver was unlikely to survive, but she and her husband chose to give their son a fighting chance.

“We’re just going to keep going,” Christy recalled after hearing the devastating news from Iver’s condition.

Iver’s dual diagnoses included heterotaxy syndrome and hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Iver’s heart did look like a mirror image of a healthy heart, but with all the parts upside down. He would need three surgeries before the age of 3.

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Iver had his first surgery a week after he was born. Christy barely had a chance to hold her son until she had her first operation.

The Sturms went on hiatus after the first surgery, when they were lucky enough to bring Iver home for a month. But the infant suffered from severe heart failure, leading doctors to realize that the planned second surgery was likely to be unsuccessful.

Iver entered the transplant list on February 16, 2021 and received a donation about 50 days later.

Christy recalls the relief she felt when her family finally returned to their empty Missoula home a month after transplant surgery.

“We didn’t have anything ready in the house just because we didn’t know if he was coming home,” Christy said. “I have never been happier to walk into my home in Missoula.”

But a bumpy road remained after the transplant. Iver had to undergo weekly blood tests and deal with additional health effects from the medications associated with his operation.

“There’s always something to worry about,” Christy said.

She said the community she found throughout Iver’s ordeal was key for the family to overcome the challenges.

“We’ve developed such an awesome community of people,” she said.

The Sturms met three other families during their treatment in Texas, all of whom received heart transplants about a month apart. She also knows a mother in Polson whose child has not yet received a transplant.

Thanks to the Enduring Hearts organization, which provides financial support in the form of gas and grocery cards to families of children with heart disease, Christy and her family have received invaluable support.

“The world of the heart is definitely a different world,” she said.

In the heart world, there is a common understanding that heart transplants will only last about 17 years. This means that Iver will probably need another transplant later.

Despite this looming possibility, the Sturms remain optimistic about their son’s prospects. He is enrolled in private swimming lessons, although he is not allowed to swim in public pools or lakes, and his doctors have said he will not be restricted from participating in sports as he grows older. he would grow old.

Christy thinks Iver’s experience so far has prepared him well for whatever obstacles lie ahead.

“He’s a strong-willed little boy,” she said.

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