A Toledo family is counting their blessings now that their 12-week old baby, Titus, has received the new heart he so desperately needed.
“First off, praise God for the gift of new life beating away inside of Titus! We owe Him all of the glory! Is this real life? Somebody pinch me!” wrote Rena Sickles, Titus’ mother, in a Facebook update the day after his surgery.
Titus Sickles was born with a severe congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which left him with only half of a functioning heart. On March 1, Titus was admitted to Seattle Children’s Hospital in preparation for a heart transplant that needed to happen sooner than later.
However, there was no telling when a suitable heart would become available. They just had to stay ready. So while Rena and Titus lived at the hospital, Andy Sickles, Titus’ father, and the family’s three other sons had to be away in order to go to work and school. Once a week Andy and the boys would drive up to the hospital to visit Rena and Titus while they waited for an answer to their prayers.
That reply finally arrived last Friday.
“You just never know how these things will happen. We got the call on Friday and he got the heart on Saturday morning,” said Rena Sickles. “He’s been moving through all of the steps that he needs to do really fast.”
In a Facebook post on the “Team Titus” page, Sickles noted that Titus set a record at the hospital when he was moved from the intensive care unit to the general care floor just three days after his surgery. She said he has even been working on breastfeeding her baby, which she called a “dream come true.”
Now that Titus is on the mend, Sickles says she expects to stay another month in the hospital while doctors work out his medication schedule. Rena said that medical staff will also train her and her husband on how to properly tend to Titus’ new medication and health care needs.
Sickles said that while the four-week wait at the hospital was arduous due to all of the uncertainty, she is simply grateful that a new heart became available as fast as it did.
“We’ve kind of embraced it as our new normal but it definitely wears on you,” said Sickles. “Usually it’s like a several month wait and he only had to wait about 30 days.”
Originally, it was believed that a series of three invasive surgeries, while costly, would ultimately correct the life-threatening problem. The Sickles and their children relocated to Portland before Titus was born so he could begin those treatments immediately at Oregon Health & Science University. However, soon after Titus was born, the defect was discovered to be more severe than originally thought and the family was forced to scrap those plans and try again in Seattle. Sickles says that even after Titus is released from the hospital he will likely need to remain local to the Seattle Children’s Hospital for two or three months for regular checkups.
“Hopefully once he gets out they will all be able to see each other more often,” said Sickles.
Sickles noted that she continues to be amazed by the outpouring of support that she has received from the online “Team Titus” community throughout Titus’ fight for his life.
“We’ve been updating our Facebook page as often as we can and people have been really positive with their response,” said Sickles. “It’s like we’ve all just witnessed a miracle.”
On Saturday a team of Titus of supporters will host a garage sale and spaghetti feed fundraiser, with the funds going toward Titus’ medical expenses. That charity effort will take place at the Forest Grange Hall, at 3397 Jackson Hwy, Chehalis, with the garage sale beginning at 9 a.m., and lunch served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
An account on the crowdfunding website gofundme.com has also been established for Titus, with $5,105 of a $15,000 goal donated to date.
The Team Titus Facebook page can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/141757609865084/. The Healing Heart for Baby Titus Go Fund Me page can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/healing-heart-for-baby-titus. Rena Sickles can be reached by email at email@example.com