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    Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento

    Chase - All-Star Athlete despite Heart Surgery at Birth

    Chase -
    Chase - All-Star Athlete despite Heart Surgery at Birth

    Cecilia’s pregnancy had progressed normally, so when she went in for labor her husband Jonathon expected the best for his wife and new son. Unfortunately, doctors were having trouble getting Chase out naturally and Cecilia had to have a c-section. When Chase finally arrived, he was blue and not breathing.

    “We were terrified,” said Jonathon. “The doctors immediately started Chase on oxygen and gave him medications to open his heart vessels. Cecilia only got to see Chase for a few minutes before he was transferred to Sutter Memorial Hospital.”

    Chase was diagnosed with transposition of the great vessels, a congenital heart defect in which the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart -- the aorta and the pulmonary artery -- are switched. While Cecilia recovered from her c-section, Jonathon rushed from Fremont Hospital in Yuba City to Sutter Memorial Hospital to learn more about his son’s condition.

    Jonathon learned that Chase was a candidate for a surgery to fix his condition. The cardiovascular surgeon at Sutter Memorial who would perform the surgery, Bradley Harlan, M.D., trained at Stanford to perfect the surgery and was one two surgeons on the West Coast that could perform it. They would have to wait a few days for Chase’s weight to stabilize, and on January 21 he underwent the seven hour operation. Cecilia made it to Sutter Memorial Hospital right before Chase went into surgery and was able to hold her son for the first time since he was born.

    “We prayed the whole time,” said Jonathon. “But we felt very comfortable having Dr. Harlan and the Sutter Memorial staff to take care of Chase.”

    Chase survived the surgery. He spent one month at Sutter Memorial Hospital for observation. And despite a staph infection that left him on “heaven’s door,” according to his dad, Chase was sent home with no further complications.

    As Chase grew up he enjoyed an active childhood. He played competitive soccer and mastered the trumpet, base and electric guitar.  He continued his annual physicals with his pediatric cardiologist, Andrew Juris, M.D., who was always impressed by how Chase had progressed as an athlete and how his body adapted to his heart.

    In the 9th grade Chase approached his father with a dream to play football. Concerned about the physical nature of the sport Jonathon wasn’t immediately sure about the idea.

    “But when Chase suggested he could be a kicker for his high school football team, it seemed like a natural progression,” said Jonathon. “And once the team’s coaches saw Chase’s talent, they did what they could to accommodate him.”

    Chase was kicker for the Davis High School Football team through high school, chosen to play in the region’s All-Star Games and holds the school’s record for longest field goal (47 yards). Now in college majoring in Agriculture at the University of California, Davis, Chase is starting to workout with the university’s football team in hopes to play for the Aggies as a sophomore.

    “While on special teams I have tackled players, and have been tackled,” said Chase. “I love the game and want to show what I am capable of, while being careful.”

    Nineteen years later, Chase’s parents still find time to remember the team that helped save their son’s life. Each year they send Dr. Harlan a card around Thanksgiving; they’ve donated supplies to Sutter Memorial Hospital and sometimes stop in to visit the unit that treated them like family.

    “We are so impressed with how Chase has grown as a student, athlete and role model,” said Jonathon. “He is a testament to what you can accomplish with faith, hard work and dedication.”


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