‘We got our gift’: Baby with heart defect receives life saving surgery, spends Christmas at home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Having their baby home for Christmas wasn’t something one local family thought was possible, especially because of the way he came into the world.

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Tiffany Stewart could never have predicted her Christmas would come together quite like this.

“It was a very traumatic morning,” she recalled.

On March 28, Stewart unexpectedly went into labor.

“It was quite painful. They couldn’t give me any drugs,” she explained.

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Four months before he was scheduled to, tiny baby Jaden officially arrived.

“This was a very dramatic entrance into the world for him,” she said. “He wasn’t breathing, so they had to resuscitate him.”

She went on to recount, “He was in an incubator, hooked up to so many different wires and tubes, but he was breathing. His heart was beating. And his eyes were open and he was looking at us.”

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Still, there were more hurdles ahead, because that beating heart of his had a hole in it, which made it hard for him to breathe.

“He was on a breathing tube for quite some time,” Stewart pointed out.

That’s how Jaden ended up in the care of pediatric cardiologist Dr. Robert English at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“A very nice guy,” is how Stewart characterized English.

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English recommended a cutting-edge surgery to insert an Abbott Piccolo Occluder, a device smaller than a dime, into Jaden’s heart and close that hole for good.

“His body, we were told that he would be the smallest patient having it, so [there were] nerves there,” Stewart admitted.

“He was definitely the smallest [patient] by a long shot,” English acknowledged.

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But Stewart put her trust in English, and Jaden went in for surgery in late June.

Up to that point, Jaden had spent much of his life inside hospital rooms. But after that life-saving surgery, his health finally began to improve.

“It was successful, it was great!” English said. “He was taken off of the ventilator less than a week later.”

“He was ... healthier-looking skin,” Stewart noticed. “He just looked like he had more life to him.”

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After three months of careful watch, Jaden was finally able to go home in September.

Fast forward to now, he is no longer on medication or supplemental oxygen, and his whole family can see his personality shine through.

“Now, we’re starting to see a smile,” Stewart described. “His eyes light up whenever I come into a room, whenever his dad starts talking.”

“It’s been amazing,” she emphasized. “To have gone through so much, he is, I mean, he’s just a trooper.”

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Thanks to specialized care, Jaden’s heart is whole now. And this Christmas, after so much uncertainty, so was his family.

“We got our gift,” Tiffany said alongside her husband, Justin Stewart. “I mean, this was more than what we could have asked for or have ever dreamed of,” she shared with a smile. “It’s a miracle. It is. It truly is.”

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