Good morning everyone,

Yes, it is early, very early in the morning. My Mom and Dad can finally heave a sigh of relief and can head off home. It’s been a marathon day for all of us; me being in two long five hour procedures, and my folks pacing the passages awaiting news of my progress.

Since my last posting, which was at about midday, a lot has happened. As you are aware, after my first procedure, which didn’t yield all the desired results intended, I was sent back to the ward, intra-theatre, which basically means I was kept in the same state I was under when in theatre. This meant that the sheath in my femoral vein remained in, and I was kept hepranised (i.e. my blood was kept thinned to avoid any kind of clotting). Furthermore, I was kept semi-sedated, which has made the writing of the blog a little more difficult than usual.

At about 4:30 in the afternoon, I was collected again to go to theatre. I was truly impressed by the surgical team that had done an afternoon of procedures, and then were still keen to operate on me for another 5 hours. These guys are truly amazing. One of the theatre nurses even came in from being on leave to take care of me.

All in all, the second procedure was successful, with the outcomes of the morning’s procedure laying the ground work. Prof. Fourie, a truly remarkable and ingenious man, managed to coil a micro catheter five times over in the fistula in my head during the morning procedure. These coils would then begin to lay the foundation of the remaining work that was done earlier this evening. Shortly after arriving in theatre and the final preparations were completed, Dr Mennen, a maestro in his field, made an incision in the back of my head. Through this incision another catheter was passed, inside which the Amplatzer PFO Occulder was housed, waiting to fulfil its mission. Slowly and meticulously the catheter made it way to the fistula, and once there, the occluder was deployed. Success! A world first had been achieved. Basically the Amplatzer PFO Occluder is actually intended for repairing holes in the heart, and never before was it used in the head. It was so awesome that a representative, Jennifer, from the company was present to witness this usual event. (Click here to view an animated video clip of an Amplatzer PFO Occluder being deployed in a heart.)

Once the jubilation of the successful deployment of the Amplatzer PFO Occulder had settled around the theatre, the next big objective was started, which was to position platinum coils into the fistula behind the occluder that had just been deployed. The idea was that the occluder would prevent the coils from being flushed away, which was the problem encountered during the morning’s procedure. Before long, one, two, three, four, and so on coils were installed, one after the other, each one being a reason to celebrate. The micro-catheter that was wound around in the fistula also assisted in ensuring the coils would not be flushed away.

The second five hour procedure of the day began to conclude, and pretty soon I was on my way back to the ward. I really felt very special as almost all of the two theatre teams that attended to me during the procedure walked with me back to the ward, with my Mom and Dad in tow. I could hear from their voices of delight that they were choking back tears and had frogs in their throat.

Although this was a watershed moment for me, the journey is still going to take a while before I’m on the full road to recovery. First and foremost, I have to go back down to theatre later in the morning to have the sheath from my femoral vein removed – it was through this sheath that the coils were administered. I must point out that the catheter, running from my groin to my head, will always remain a part of me, as it is attached to the coiling of the micro-catheter in my head. There is no way this could have been cut at the fistula and extracted. Subsequently it will be terminated at my groin, during a small procedure tomorrow. Secondly, while I’m in theatre, there is a chance I will need to undergo an angiogram.

I also need to report that the late evening was a really tussle for me. I was really struggling to have my stats settle. Different machines were tried, machines were recalibrated, to no avail. The paediatrician on duty, Dr Lewis, battled long and hard to settle me. After lots of trials I was taken off the conventional ventilator and put onto an oscillating-ventilator, similar to the one that I was on when I was last intubated at Morningside Medi-Clinic. The intention behind this was to reduce the amount of CO2 that was in my body. Apparently the oscillating-ventilator is great at extracting high levels of CO2. Some time later more chest x-rays were taken and all seemed in order. Eventually all settled, and I drifted off to a deep sleep.

Well, that’s about all for this early morning. Prof Fourie provided some digital images of my procedure, which I have posted below, with a small explanation of each underneath. To any medical practitioners out there reading this blog, please forgive me simple terminology in describing what is depicted in the diagrams, and secondly, if I have incorrectly reported something, please leave a comment on the blog for other readers’ benefit.

Last but not least, I must thank all my supporters out there. You are all so incredible, and I get a lump in my throat when I think of how much love there is out there, from strangers, friends and family alike, all rooting for me, praying and sending me lots of positive energy and wishes. Throughout my procedure I could feel the presence of all the wonderful angles and guardians that you dispatched to keep and eye over me and to guide the thoughts and actions of the medical team that attended to me, to ensure that I reached my three month birthday, today.

Lots of love, hugs, and kisses,


Figure 1 Occluder successfully deployed

In Figure 1, the occluder has been successfully deployed. The occluder is the item that looks like a round net. The thicker rings on the outside is the micro-catheter that was wound into place during the procedure during the morning. Bottom of the scan are some pliers which are not, I repeat, are not inside of me!

Figure 2 Platinum coils installed

In Figure 2 the darker finer coils are the platinum coils which were installed via the original catheter that was inserted during the procedure in the morning.

Figure 3 Occluder catheter is detached

In Figure 3 one can clearly see the catheter that introduced the occluder detached. The catheter that carried the occluder is the thicker, darker ribbed looking catheter. And yes, those pliers are still lurking around!

Figure 4 The Final Product

In the last figure (Figure 4), the catheter that introduced the occluder through the back of my head has now been retracted. What lingers behind is the occluder, the micro-catheter, and the coiling, all of which will remain inside me to occlude the fistula. You can see the micro-catheter trailing away to the left – this extends all the way down to my groin via the femoral vein, and will remain there forever. As time progresses, the inflammatory responses of my body will begin to attack all these foreign bodies and collect and attach to them, and in turn grow bigger, making the occlusion more dense and solid.

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10 Comments on Three Months Old Today

  1. Gillian says:

    YAY – Happy 3 month birthday sweet little Jarrod. So very happy that you are now over this operation and now all you need to do is regain your strength, pack on some pounds (or in your case kilograms)and go home with your Mommy and Daddy.

    Looking at the pictures – absolutely mind boggling what they have done. Not including the pliers but with all this “hardware” in your head – does this mean you might set off alarms at the airport (when you finally come to see us):-)

    Rest Well Little one – get some sleep Mom and Dad

    Gillian, Oliver, Ryan and Kirsten

  2. Oliver says:

    Jarrod, so happy that you are over this next hurdle. I was fascinated by the technology being used. As it turns out, AGA, the manufacturer of the Amplatz device happens to be short distance away from us in Plymouth, Minnesota. That is the suburb of Minneapolis where we lived for the first six years here in Minnesota. We could have rustled some response if needed but Dr. Fourie’s team obviously knew where to get their info.
    Norwin, I saw that AGA had a section on their site for patient stories. I’m sure they would love to have Jarrod’s story given what a unique treatment he has had.

    We are praying for a speedy recovery now that this major hurdle is behind you

    Lots of love
    Oliver, Gillian, Ryan and Kirsten

  3. Oliver says:

    p.s. Jarrod, according to AGA’s web site you are now entitled to a very special ID card. Gill was wondering whether you will set off alarms in airports, well here is the manufacturer’s official answer:

    “If I travel, can I go through metal detectors without setting off an alarm?”
    “Your AMPLATZER Occluder device should not set off metal detector alarms. The AMPLATZER Occluders are not magnetic. Patients with an AMPLATZER Occluder are provided an identification card stating they have this device if any questions should arise.”

    Your ID card should also include the words “I am a very special gift from God”.

  4. Claire says:

    Happy three month birthday, Jarrod!!! You just keep getting stronger and stronger. It looks like your Dad will never catch up with all your world firsts! I think he has every reason to be envious of you. We can’t wait to meet you, little guy.

  5. Gideon says:

    Happy 3 month b-day little Jarrod!

    We’re keeping you, your mommy and daddy in our prayers.
    All the best for today and with the road ahead to a full recovery!

  6. Tanya says:

    Happy 3 month birthday, baby Jarrod!
    Here’s three cheers to your great success!
    Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! This is truly an amazing medical feat, I so happy that all your medical teams were so innovative.

    Now my fighter pilot you can grow big and strong and be your daddy’s extra special ‘wing man’.
    And with your mommy you will share many ‘firsts’, just like the bath she gave you this week.

    We can’t wait to finally meet you at your ‘crib’ in you mommy and daddy’s home. Sleep well little angel and good luck with the final tests etc. that they still have to do today.

    Lynn and Led, I am very happy for both of you. Try get some rest for now.

    All our prayers and love
    Tanya, Anthony and Morgan

  7. Matt says:

    Way to go Big Guy. You truly are amazing. But then I just knew you were gonna sail through this mission. Well done.

  8. Claudi says:

    Hi there,

    I am so happy that Jarrod had to operation. I wish you all the best, and will keep thinking of you guys.

    Love Claudi

  9. Bronwyn says:

    Good morning you special little boy!!!!

    Happy 3 month birthday for yesterday.
    WOW, we are so happy that they have finally managed to perform the procedure and it can only get better from here, and you can now regain your strength and get nice and big and strong so you can go home.

    You are absolutely without a doubt an incredibly special little boy, who is going to bring so so much joy and happiness to everyone you meet!!!!! A special child!!!!!!

    We will all continue sending you all our prayers and best wishes that you can get strong quickly so you can go home!!!

    Please send your mommy and daddy all our love, I am sure the last few days have just been a rollercoaster of emotions for them.

    Love and light to you all, will keep you all close in my heart.

    Bronwyn, Gary, Brannon, Rhianne

  10. Marissa says:

    May the Lord open up
    The windows of heaven
    And pour you a blessing
    That you will not have room
    Enough to receive it all.
    My prayers are with you and your family have faith mum and dad god has special plans for your little angel be strong.


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