Holden's story

First-time parents Lauren and Jim tried for many years to have a child until Holden, their miracle baby, finally arrived. Then one night, when Holden was just 3 months old, he turned pale and began vomiting. After his worried parents consulted their pediatrician on the phone, they rushed Holden to their local emergency department. In the ED, the baby’s heart began racing out of control — 300 beats per minute. Doctors tried several tactics to get the baby stabilized, but to no avail. 

They knew he needed specialized pediatric care, so they called Children’s Wisconsin. Children’s Transport team was immediately dispatched to transfer Holden via ambulance to the Children’s Emergency Department and Trauma Center (EDTC). Children’s Transport consists of specially trained nurse clinicians and respiratory care practitioners. A doctor oversees all transports, and a doctor trained in neonatal or pediatric critical care travels with the team as needed. In the ambulance, the team worked tirelessly to keep Holden alive. Every second counted. 

Upon their arrival in the EDTC, the Level I Trauma team was called into action. An emergency physician tried to calm Lauren, but when she asked if Holden’s situation was life-threatening, the doctor confirmed that, “Yes, it could be.” The team used shock paddles to get his heart to regulate, but he wasn’t stabilizing. Soon after, Holden went into cardiac arrest and a code blue was called. Lauren remembers dropping to her knees. This was her worst nightmare.

After several rounds of CPR, Holden began breathing again. His condition remained unstable, so he was put on ECMO — a heart/lung bypass machine — to give his tiny body time to rest and recover. Further testing led to the diagnosis of supraventricular tachycardia, which is an abnormally fast heart rhythm. He remained in the hospital for more than five weeks — two in intensive care and another three in intermediate care, where he was weaned off some medications and received physical therapy to regain the strength he had lost. “There were some very dark days,” said Lauren, “but I knew he was getting the best care.”

Holden is now a happy and adorable toddler. He has been closely monitored by Children’s specialists, and recently, the family received good news: Tests showed that Holden has outgrown his heart condition. His mom says it’s a miracle he is doing so well. “Children’s literally saved my son’s life,” said Lauren.