The Brown Family

Brian and Lisa Brown were expecting a baby boy. Three weeks before Lisa was due, they received devastating news: their son was going to be born with Ebstein’s anomaly, which is a rare heart defect.

Hunter was born on November 14, 2013, and was placed into an incubator in the NICU. All Brian and Lisa could say to the medical team was, “Do whatever you can to save our baby.”

Hunter spent less than 24 hours in the NICU before being transferred to a specialized hospital in Calgary. Along with severe Ebstein’s anomaly, Hunter’s blood pressure was extremely high and his liver was in distress. He was soon airlifted to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Brian and Lisa hoped their stay would be short. On day three, they moved into Ronald McDonald House Charities® Northern Alberta. Lisa was especially moved by the Quilt Room. Lisa’s late grandmother had been an avid quilter, and she felt her Grandma’s spirit envelope her.

Hunter’s first open heart surgery took six agonizing hours, and his doctors were having difficulty stabilizing him. The surgeon decided to put Hunter on life support. After six days, Hunter was taken to surgery again. The reality of their situation was hitting Brian and Lisa. They let RMHCNA know that their stay would be longer than anticipated.

As weeks and months went by, Hunter was met with life threatening complications. For three months, he met each organ failure with more fighting power. The doctors kept telling the family that care was continuing only because Hunter’s brain still had activity. That changed on January 9.

A call came into RMHCNA around noon. Lisa listened as the doctor explained that Hunter required a CT scan. The neurosurgeon showed them images of Hunter’s brain and explained that the white in the image was blood covering the right side of his brain.

Brian and Lisa made a decision no parent should ever be faced with. They decided not to revive Hunter if the inevitable happened. Doctors gave Hunter four days to prove to them that he wasn’t giving up, and the family prayed harder and longer than ever before.

Then good news came. The doctor said that there was evidence that the blood in his brain had started absorbing. Lisa looked at Brian, choking back tears, and said, “As long as Hunter continues to fight, we will continue to fight.”

Finally, on February 18, Hunter’s heart worked without the assistance of any machines. He was still on close medical watch, but this was huge progress! On February 22, Lisa and Brian held their son for the first time in 82 days.

On April 6, Hunter was transferred home to Calgary Children’s Hospital for two months until being discharged. Since being released, Hunter is thriving at home. Big brother Clayton brags about how cute he is with his with his smile. The Brown family feels fortunate to be in the presence of a real-life miracle every day.

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