CLEVELAND — A Cleveland family is celebrating their baby boy's life and praising God after he was saved thanks to a rare heart procedure.
The timing holds an even stronger sense of purpose and meaning to them, as February marks American Heart Month.
His family says he wouldn’t be here today without the power of prayer and the health systems available in Northeast Ohio.
Looking back at various photos of her sweet baby boy DJ and holding him today, draws a whirlwind of emotions out of Danielle Edmonds.
“They always say you are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and in the beginning, I didn’t see a light," Edmonds said.
The Cleveland mom of two, pride and joy little DJ, spent 484 days in the hospital and in rehab.
He was born in January of 2021, three months premature. His twin sibling passed away in utero.
By every definition of the word, DJ is a gift. He's Danielle's true blessing and miracle baby.
“It’s been a roller coaster from the beginning. From the beginning, I knew he was my miracle cause he survived," Edmonds said.
DJ was born with an extremely rare and life-threatening congenital heart defect.
It prevented blood from the heart’s two lower chambers to flow to the lungs and other parts of the body.
“I didn’t know if I would ever bring my baby home. From one hospital to the next," Edmonds said.
After getting a second opinion, she came to Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital where doctors determined exactly what was wrong and worked to save him.
"The two arteries instead of arising, each one of them from a different ventricle, they both arose from the same ventricle. So, the right ventricle has two outlets and left ventricle has no outlet," Dr. Hani Najm, Chair of Pediatric and Adult Heart Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic said.
Edmonds says at that moment she let go and let God. She prayed with her son’s physician Dr. Hani Najm.
“I asked him to pray on his hands before he took my son. I said can I pray on your hands? And he didn’t think about it or not even knowing his religious beliefs… He just gave me his hands," Edmonds said.
Those hands and a coveted healing stone protected and helped DJ overcome, Edmonds said.
DJ became the youngest patient ever to receive “the ventricular switch”. The rare procedure switches the right ventricle and left ventricle. The left now pumps to the lungs and the right to the body.
"This has never been done in that age group, which was three months for DJ, at that time when he was in failure. But we felt that would be the best thing to do this procedure for him," Dr. Najm said.
The procedure was a life-altering success. DJ looked healthier and happier almost instantly.
“His color was blue around his eyes, around his lips. But when he came back from getting open heart surgery he was pink.”
A miraculous recovery.
Today, he is full of life.
He giggles, plays and loves technology, and somehow he has even learned to snap selfies on her iPhone.
“DJ can we get a smile! Say cheese! CHEESE!”
Dr. Najm says DJ is thriving, growing, and getting better each day.
He will continue to go to the doctor for regular checkups over the years.