Sunday, August 12, 2012

Carter's Story

Carter was born August 20, 2005 at Trinity in Moline, IL. He is the son of Matt and Kim (Cathelyn) Yackley. They were so excited to be expecting a child. Carter was their first born and Kim loved being pregnant. The pregnancy progressed like any other normal pregnancy. They had no idea that on August 20th, it would be one of the happiest days of their life and yet one of the saddest. It was a day of joy and sorrow. That day their life was turned upside down. Within minutes of his birth one of the nurses discovered something was wrong. Less than 6 hours later, his parents, Kim and Matt Yackley, were told Carter had an unknown heart condition and he needed to be immediately airlifted to OSF Children’s Hospital in Peoria. Matt was told to leave for Peoria right away and Kim was discharged approximately 2 hours after Carter was airlifted.

Carter was diagnosed with an extremely rare congenital heart defect know as truncus arteriosus. In a normal infant and adult there are 2 main blood vessels leaving the heart: the aorta and the pulmonary artery. These are the 2 main and largest arteries in your body. Each artery contains a valve: the aortic valve and the pulmonary valve. In truncus arteriosus instead of having a separate pulmonary artery and aorta, each with their own 3-leafed valves, a baby with truncus has only one great blood vessel (artery) or trunk leaving the heart which then branches into blood vessels that go to the lungs and the body. This causes pooling of blood and oxygenated blood mixing with deoxygenated blood. This one great vessel usually has one large valve which may have between 2 and 5 leaflets. Usually this great vessel sits over both the left and right ventricle. The upper portion of the wall between these 2 chambers is missing resulting in what is known as a ventricular septal defect (VSD). Carter’s was also a little more complex in that his septum which separates the right and left side of the heart beats the wrong direction. This is something his doctors have never seen or heard of.

Once Carter was stabilized, he had his first open heart surgery. He was 4 days old and in surgery for over 14 hours. Carter’s first open heart surgery included the doctors making a pulmonary artery. They used a plastic tube called a conduit and formed a pulmonary artery. From there they needed to add 2 heart valves. They used human heart valves called homografts to create an aortic valve and a pulmonary valve. At such a young age and due to the swelling that takes place, Carter came out of surgery with his chest open and his heart exposed.

Carter experienced a few snags on his way to recover after his first surgery. For instance, after surgery they leave pacing wires connected to the heart so if the heart slows down or becomes irregular they can pace the heart with an external pacemaker. Carter never regained his heart function and had to return to the operating room to have a permanent pacemaker inserted. He still has his pacemaker today; however, his heart has regained function and it is only on backup in case of emergency.

Slowly but surely Carter started getting stronger and soon they were able to start removing equipment, IV medications (at one time he had 26 IV drips) and his ventilator. Finally, on September 24, 2005 Carter was discharged from OSF! He had spent the first 35 days of life in a hospital crib and was finally able to go home!

In the early hours of November 6, 2005 Kim and Matt took Carter to the emergency room. His lab work came back critical; he was dig toxic. His potassium level was so high the doctor worried about sudden cardiac death. Carter was airlifted once again to OSF Children’s Hospital in Peoria. Carter was in heart failure. Both of Carter’s heart valves had failed; they were completely wide open and no longer working.

On November 10, 2005 Carter had his second open heart surgery. They had to replace both the aortic valve and pulmonary valve. Doctors decided to insert a St. Jude’s mechanical valve in place of his aortic valve. This time Carter’s chest was closed when he came out of surgery. Once Carter was stabilized and doing well, Kim and Matt were informed that Carter only has 1 kidney. In the big picture this was only a minor detail, but in Kim’s eyes it was one more piece of devastating news. Carter was discharged from OSF on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2005.

Since then Carter has done amazingly well. All of his doctors are extremely impressed with his progress. There have been a few bumps along the way; at age 3 Carter was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. He was put on anti-seizure medication and has had no seizures since. He has a follow up with his neurologist every 6 months and an EEG yearly. He sees his urologist every 2 years for follow up and he sees an orthopedic specialist every year due to a hip deformity. The hip deformity doesn’t slow him down but one day he will need to have surgery to correct the bones in his leg. Carter also sees his cardiologist every 6 months. These are usually long visits that include an echocardiogram, EKG, chest x-ray and pacemaker check.

On July 18, 2012 Carter had his 6 month cardiology checkup. Kim has said she doesn’t know if it was mother’s intuition or not but she had an extremely bad feeling all the way to Peoria. Upon arrival they were immediately taken into the room where the echocardiograms are performed. Kim could tell something was different. The echo technician got a lot more angles and spent an extra amount of time reviewing certain areas. Carter was then taken for his pacemaker check. During the checkup the cardiologist said Carter’s pacemaker battery was low and only had 7 months of life left on it. He said Carter would need a simple surgery to replace the generator to his pacemaker. It would be a same day surgery. After that Kim and Carter spent some time waiting for his cardiologist to review his echo. When he came in to speak with Kim she knew instantly something was wrong. Carter’s doctor informed her that Carter would need another open heart surgery soon. He said both the aortic and pulmonary valves were severely stenosised and the pulmonary conduit was also severely stenosised and needed to be replaced.

With so much going on over the last 7 years, Carter still leads a normal life like any other boy his age. He is a true miracle. He plays t-ball, rides bikes, swims and participates in gym class at school. He is so full of energy that you would never know by looking at him that he was born with a congenital heart defect. He is a very strong, overactive, fun-loving little boy. He loves his friends and family and is always giving hugs. He doesn’t really understand his extensive medical history but he does know he has a “broken heart”.

Carter’s third open heart surgery is scheduled for September 11, 2012. At that time he will have both heart valves replaced, the pulmonary artery conduit replaced, and his pacemaker battery changed. The surgery will take approximately 8-10 hours. The first 24 hours of recovery will determine how long Carter will need to remain in the hospital. If everything goes well he may be able to come home after 7 days. It is unsure how long Carter's recovery will be and what will take place in the months following Carter's surgery.


If you are willing to make a monetary donation, please use the PayPal link located on this site or you may also donate by sending a check to:

The Farmers National Bank of Prophetstown 
Attn: Eugenia
700 US Hwy 6 E
PO Box 180
Geneseo, IL 61254

Make Checks Payable to: Carter Yackley Benefit

If you are willing to donate a gift certificate or a gift basket for a silent auction to be held during the Bowl-A-Thon event in October, please contact us to let us know.

Thank you to everyone who supports Team Carter!!

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