MILWAUKEE — A local boy suffers from a serious medical condition and battles many illnesses — but thankfully, we have a medical jewel in Milwaukee. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is known for doing amazing work to make our little ones, like Antonio, a whole lot better.
“That little body has been through a lot,” Antonio’s mother, Rashita Norton said.
Antonio’s young body has been through five open heart surgeries. The scars on his body are marks of triumph.
“It was so devastating to sit there everyday not knowing when or how long it was going to take,” Norton said.
Five-year-old Antonio spent 233 days at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“A long eight-and-a-half months in the hospital waiting for a heart,” Norton said.
“Antonio was born with a severe form of congenial heart disease, something that we call ‘Tetralogy of Fallot,'” Dr. Steven Kindel, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin cardiologist said.
Antonio was just two months old during his first surgery — and seven months old during the second.
But still, Antonio’s heart and liver were failing. His kidneys were shutting down, and by the age of four, he was placed on the heart transplant waiting list and placed on a Berlin heart pump.
“It’s actually a chamber that sucks the blood physically into this device and then that device acts as a pump to push it back out,” Dr. Kindel said.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was one of just 15 sites in the country selected to participate in a clinical study to help attain FDA approval for the device — which brought back some of Antonio’s energy — enough to play with toys, friends and ride his tricycle down the hallways.
Norton says the staff kept Antonio busy and their care lifted her spirits. They became family.
“The care was so awesome at Children’s Hospital,” Norton said.
“That’s an investment we make. We know we have to make the life of our patients better while they’re going through their hard times,” Dr. Kindel said.
Lots of children have long stays at the hospital. They spend their holidays there.
“The community’s donations to the hospital are often the funds that help us get toys for these kids when they’re sitting there. or he was here during multiple holidays and all the events that they get to have to make them feel like they’re not trapped in a hospital but out and enjoying their life,” Dr. Kindel said.
Antonio got his new heart on March 6th. In two weeks, he was leaving the hospital.
“His recovery was so miraculous,” Norton said.
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CLICK HERE to learn more about Antonio’s story.