At one week old, Hudson Swaim already survived heart surgery. Now the community is rallying to support his family

Beth Kornegay/Special to the Times
Easton Swaim holds his little brother, Hudson, who has already undergone heart surgery.

When Megan Swaim had her 25-week sonogram of her son, Hudson, she heard what every parent dreads. Megan and her husband, Colby, were told that the doctors were concerned with their baby’s heart. They were quickly referred to a cardiologist and then to Children’s Mercy Hospital so Megan and Hudson could be closely monitored for the remainder of her pregnancy.

 Hudson was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which affects normal blood flow through the heart. In cases like this one, as a baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly. This is one type of congenital heart defect.

 Hudson was also diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta. In this condition, part of the aorta is more narrow than usual. If the narrowing is severe enough and the condition goes undiagnosed, the baby would likely need surgery soon after birth. If those two diagnosis were not worrisome enough, Hudson also has a ventricular septum defect, which occurs if the wall that forms between the two ventricles does not fully develop, leaving a hole.

Prior to delivering, Megan endured many tests to help determine what type of surgery Hudson would need once he was born. The team of doctors let the Swaims know that their son would need open heart surgery almost as soon as he was born.

“Finding out your child will have to battle for their life is very difficult to process, but the support, love and prayers we received throughout this journey and have continued to receive have absolutely made this journey less scary,” Megan said. “Our community has given us so much encouragement and has helped us feel peace in the most fearful times.”

Hudson's journey leads him home 

Turning to social media, the couple set up a Facebook group called “Hudson’s Heart Journey” which kept family and friends up to date on Megan’s pregnancy and Hudson’s health. Hudson was born April 19, weighing in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 19.25 inches in length.

At just one week old, Hudson underwent an eight-hour heart surgery to repair his aortic arch. The surgery was successful and just over one week later, Hudson went home to meet the rest of his family, including big brother Easton. 

Now, Hudson sees his cardiologist once per month and visits his pediatrician once each week to closely monitor his weight, breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels. He will be under the care of a cardiologist for his entire life, which will include future surgeries and additional procedures. Hudson will likely be unable to participate in contact sports and activities in the future, but the Swaims hope that will be a small price to pay. Because the surgery Hudson endured in his first week of life was so invasive, there are risks of developmental delays and neurological issues, but the family is hoping for mild or non-existent effects.

While the family does have medical insurance, the bills from Hudson’s birth, his surgery and other procedures have yet to start coming in. Understandably, they are bracing themselves for substantial costs that may not be covered by insurance.  

Rusty Bumper Hill event to donate all proceeds to Swaim family

Two years ago, the Swaims attended a public family event at Rusty Bumper Hill, a small tract of undeveloped land just outside of Basehor that David Staresinic and Mechelle Ogborn use for fun activities for their family and friends. Rusty Bumper Hill is named for the two rusty pick-up trucks that are located on the land.  

After taking a year off from planning events due to the pandemic, the organizers of Rusty Bumper Hill asked the Swaims if they could honor Hudson at this year’s event and donate all proceeds to the family to help with medical costs.

This year’s event will be Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. at 179th  Street and Fairmount Road and will include a vintage aircraft flyover, food vendors, raffles, activities for children and the viewing of the movie “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” Many Basehor businesses have donated generous raffle prizes and serve as event sponsors. In lieu of an admission fee to the event, attendees are encouraged to purchase raffle tickets with 100% of the proceeds going to help with Hudson’s medical expenses. Details about the event can be found on Facebook on the 2021 Cruise and Movie Night.

The Swaims lived in Basehor until recently and Megan works at the Basehor-Linwood Early Learning Center, where Easton attends preschool. The entire family is planning to attend Saturday’s event to visit with attendees and thank the community for their support.

“We have made lifelong friends from our time in Basehor,” Megan said. “The generosity and kindness has been so helpful to our family in more ways than imaginable.”