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Baby boy finally comes home after 76 days in the hospital

McCoy Edward Anderson's parents thought the only surprise coming from their first born child would be his sex. Unbeknownst to them, their baby boy would spend his first three months in hospitals undergoing two surgeries and covered in tubes to he...

McCoy and his parents Jenna Wolf and Lane Anderson finally all got to return home to Dickinson Sept. 17. Photo courtesy of Jenna Wolf.
McCoy and his parents Jenna Wolf and Lane Anderson finally all got to return home to Dickinson Sept. 17. Photo courtesy of Jenna Wolf.

McCoy Edward Anderson's parents thought the only surprise coming from their first born child would be his sex.

Unbeknownst to them, their baby boy would spend his first three months in hospitals undergoing two surgeries and covered in tubes to help him breathe and eat.

His mother, Jenna Wolf, said she had always been a bit of a tomboy while his father, Lane Anderson, was more nervous about the prospect of having a little girl.

On July 2, Jenna was lifeflighted from Dickinson to Fargo, where she gave birth to a 4-pound, 15-ounce boy.

She had found out during her pregnancy that her baby had a hole in his heart, something not completely uncommon for babies. Some holes are so small they even close up on their own, she said. Her cardiologist had recommended she deliver in either Bismarck or Fargo in case there was any afterbirth care required-just to be safe.

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Shortly after giving birth, the doctors went to take McCoy's temperature using a rectal thermometer, only to find that there was no spot to do so. He was born with an imperforated anus. After the first heart echo, they also discovered a second hole in his heart.

McCoy was born with Cat Eye Syndrome. It affects 1 in 74,000 to 150,000 babies-depending on the severity of the conditions-and is the triplication of part of chromosome 22 which can result in problems with an infant's heart, hearing, rectum and urinary tract, among other things. Some infants have less severe symptoms than others and go undiagnosed, which explains the large range in occurrences, Jenna said.

At three days old, McCoy was scheduled to have a colostomy surgery-the first of three-to fix his anus. Upon doing one more heart echo to ensure he was fit for surgery, the doctors found another problem. The left vein in his heart was not connected to his left atrium, but rather looped behind the heart dropping into the right atrium, a condition called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR), a symptom of Cat Eye Syndrome found in 1 percent of all congenital heart defects, she said.

The two holes in his heart were actually helping to keep him alive because they still allowed McCoy to pump blood--though mixed between oxygenated and non-oxygenated--between the two sides of his heart.

They ruled that the three-day-old baby was strong enough to withstand surgery. They later moved him to Minneapolis to have surgery on his heart to fix the TAPVR at 15 days old.

"Everything happens for a reason," his mother said. "Just because if he wouldn't have had the imperforated anus who knows if we would have found out that other heart condition? Who knows if we would have gotten sent home with just only knowing that he had [two holes in his heart] without knowing that other heart condition if he wouldn't have needed to go into surgery at three days old."

From there he fought for weeks to get his breathing regulated with breathing tubes and feeding tubes going directly to his intestines and then later his stomach when he was strong enough to breathe without his tubes, his mom said.

In total McCoy spent his first 76 days in hospitals: 13 in Fargo and then the following 63 in Minneapolis. He finally came home on Sept. 17, much to the delight of his parents, but he will need four more surgeries before he's about a year old.

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He knows he is home, they both said.

"It's also rewarding just seeing how happy he is sometimes even with everything that he has going on that he is still doing so well from it all," Jenna said. "And seeing him smile makes us smile then too. He's a spitfire. He has a personality for sure."

McCoy is known to size up people when first meeting them, something his dad calls the "stink-eye." Lane said his son's hair also cracks him up. He and his wife like to comb it over like an older man's reminding him of his high school science teacher.

Lane had to spend much of his son's first few months of life working back in Dickinson in order to continue providing for his family. Though he wished he could be with his family, there was little McCoy's parents could do for him at the hospital, so Lane would drive back to Dickinson to work at times.

"When he was born I didn't feel like a dad because I didn't get to hold him, and I didn't get to take care of him," he said. "So it didn't feel real at first."

McCoy and his family will need to travel to Minneapolis for routine check-ups in addition to his visits with a pediatrician in Dickinson. When McCoy reaches between 12 to 15 pounds, he can undergo the second intestinal surgery, then three months later he can have the final one to fix his imperforated anus and then another heart surgery before his first birthday, his mother said. He also has urinary reflux, meaning his urine runs up through his kidneys before going down and out of his body causing urinary tract infections. He will be able to have a surgery to fix his urinary tract when he is about a year and a half.

"Eventually, you'll be like everybody else," Jenna said, looking down at her son in her arms. "Just gonna take some time to get there."

Jenna's father, Duane Wolf, serves as the director and treasurer of the Roughrider Commission, which has organized a fundraiser on Oct. 24 to raise money to help Jenna and Lane with their medical and travel expenses to and from Minneapolis. The group also set up a GiveForward page for people to donate to the family. The page has raised over $1,000 in 22 day with a goal of $10,000.

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"The committee said it's one of our own people that are on the committee, and they just felt they wanted to do something personally for that individual," McCoy's grandfather said.

"It makes you feel like you're appreciated by your friends and your committee," he added.

The commission raises money for Ronald McDonald Houses all over the state in addition to helping individual families with their annual fundraiser being held in February. But the Roughrider Commission decided to hold a separate event for McCoy and his parents.

Jenna posted daily updates on Facebook while McCoy was still in the hospital which gained the support and attention of many community members and friends, some she had never met before, she said.

"I feel really blessed to see the whole community kind of come together and help support us through everything that we've been going through these last, basically, three months," she said. "All the support and love and prayers that we've been receiving even from people that we don't even know."

Both Jenna and Lane said their bosses have been supportive and understanding during McCoy's recovery in allowing them both to take time off to spend time in the hospital, something they both are grateful for.

While Jenna is originally from Dickinson, Lane said he has lived in the area about five years. Most of the support has come from friends, relatives and community members who have rallied around Jenna and her family.

"I just feel like we shouldn't bother people with our problems, but at the same time I mean it makes me feel just amazed at how much the community is behind us and everything," Lane said. "I wouldn't have this much support if I was back in Montana where I grew up. So it's just overwhelming for me, I would say, but very appreciative of what everybody is doing for us."

Though McCoy has finally returned home, he still has a long road ahead. He has a colostomy bag in lieu of a functional anus and suffers from gas pains and fits when he struggles to catch his breath when he gets upset. Sometimes he even turns blue during such fits, his mom said.

But Lane said he was not too worried since the family is armed with a strong support system, doctors and a warrior for a son.

"He's handled everything like a champ so far, so I'm not too worried about what the future holds for us just because the kid's got nothing but fight in him," Lane said.

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