Soldier Returns Just in Time for Unborn Son's Heart Surgery


Baby Gets 'Arterial Switch' At Birth

In Jaxon's case, Dr. Robert A. Gustafson, division chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, performed the "arterial switch" procedure.

Initially, he tore a hole in the upper chamber of the heart to allow the blood to "mix better," said Rhodes. Then, five days later, he cut the aorta and pulmonary arteries and "moved them back where they belong."

Jaxon's prognosis is good, according to Rhodes, who said doctors have been doing this type of surgery since the 1980s.

"There are people out there in their 30s doing fine," he said. "I have 10 or 15 patients and some are active in varsity sports. They can live a normal active life."

The Keeneys first suspected there was a problem with the pregnancy when she went to her obstetrician in February and had a routine ultrasound.

"There was something about the way Jaxon was sitting and they couldn't get a good look at his heart," said his father. "But there was something they didn't like and sent her to a specialist."

Megan Keeney was urged to go three hours away to West Virginia University Children's Hospital in Morgantown.

"I was working six-day weeks and at least 12 hours a day," said Jon Keeney. "[Megan] had a lot to take on herself, especially when I was over there and she didn't know what was going on."

He arrived home June 5, two weeks before the due date as Megan Keeney was induced into labor. Immediately after birth, Jaxon was rushed into another room with the pulmonary experts.

"They kind of brought him back to Megan to hold for a couple of seconds," he said.

During Jaxon's recuperation from surgery, the couple stayed in the basement of Keeney's uncle in Morgantown.

Even though Jaxon's open heart surgery was no surprise, the first week home still rattled his parents.

"[Megan] stays up all night, just watching him," said Jon Keeney, who was home looking after Jaxon to give his wife a break by the pool.

"He just loves his car seat," he said. "He's very good and he doesn't cry very much."

Megan Keeney has been unable to keep her eyes off the infant.

"That whole first night we came home, I sat up and just stared at him because I was like, 'Wow, this is amazing," she told the Charleston Daily Mail, which first reported the story.

"I love it," she said. "We don't have to worry about wires and stuff when we're picking him up."

She intends to stay at home with the baby, working part-time at a tanning salon. After six years of active and two years inactive duty, Jon Keeney can now stay stateside. He hopes to go back to his job as a police officer in South Charleston.

"I was nervous, but I had faith that God would take care of him," he said of Jaxon. "We were still nervous as parents should be, but we also knew he would be O.K. and get through in the end."

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