The open heart surgery Nik Nadkarni’s son had days after being born is still fresh in mind, even three years later. It’s every parent’s fear – that something could be wrong with their child.
In 2013 Nik, a lawyer at GE Healthcare, welcomed his first son, Keegan. It was a full-term pregnancy with a normal delivery; mom and baby seemed healthy until a routine post-birth checkup on Keegan showed signs of low oxygen levels.
At two days old, Keegan was urgently referred by the medical team to the Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. According to his cardiologist, Keegan had a “constellation of defects” including coarctation of the aorta, an Atrial septal defect, a ventricular septal defect, and a parachute mitral valve. A few days later, Keegan was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) having open heart surgery to address these heart defects.
“As new parents, we had read all the things we should do to help ensure a healthy baby, took all the tests and precautions,” said Nik. “We never expected, nor were we prepared, to deal with seeing our child in such peril.”
Fortunately, both the surgery and recovery went smoothly. One month later, Keegan was able to go home with his loving family. Amidst the fear and stress, Nik also remembers a sense of pride and even relief as he saw his company’s equipment treating his son from the initial detection of low oxygen levels through the recovery. “I felt some relief because I work with the people that build and sell these machines every day, and I know they care. We often get lost in all the meetings and emails and lose sight of what our products can do for people,” he said.
Today, Keegan is an energetic and healthy three-year-old. Nik is expecting his second child later this year and knows there is a risk this child could also experience similar heart issues. But now he is prepared.