The Ottumwa Courier

September 3, 2013

Ottumwa boy to have open heart surgery

Courier correspondent

---- — OTTUMWA – Little 18-month-old Jaxson Dodson loves music, cuddling and eating — banana is his favorite flavor. He has come a long way. In fact, doctors didn’t expect him to survive to birth. With multiple surgeries and more to come, including major heart surgery today, this little guy has captured a lot of hearts.

Cynthia Beverlin remembers the joy of learning she was pregnant with a baby boy during her 20-week ultrasound. Like any young expectant mom, she immediately contacted family members and updated her Facebook status with the good news.

However, that joy quickly turned to heartbreak when just four hours later, she received a chilling call from the doctor telling her that ultrasound results showed that her baby boy has “multiple anomalies,” problems with his brain, heart, face and feet.

One week later, she traveled to Des Moines for a level-two ultrasound so doctors could get a better look at her baby. This revealed a fluid filled cyst on his brain, bilateral cleft lip and palate, a heart defect (three heart chambers instead of four and an extra artery), clubfeet and six toes on each foot.

Doctors told her that babies with this many problems typically don’t survive through pregnancy. Cynthia was advised that it would be best if she abort her baby.

“There was no way I could live with myself knowing I didn’t give him a chance. This had to be God’s choice, not mine,” Cynthia said, opting to proceed with the pregnancy.

The next step, amniocentesis, revealed a bit of good news — no chromosome disorders were detected.

“I didn’t like being counseled about aborting my baby,” Cynthia said, opting to switch doctors and head to the high-risk unit in Iowa City. She told them from the start she didn’t want any negativity. She was ready to fight for her baby and give him every chance she could.

On Feb. 17, 2012, Jaxson Eugene Dodson was born naturally to Cynthia and her fiancé, Alex Dodson. Jaxson wasn’t breathing, and he was a blue-gray color. Doctors immediately worked to resuscitate him, he was put on a ventilator and he was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit.

He spent the next 34 days in the hospital. In addition to the problems they had anticipated, Jaxson had massive seizures, they discovered he is blind, that he would eventually need a kidney transplant and that he has a very abnormal brain. At day seven, Cynthia finally got to hold her baby in her arms. When he was released from the hospital, he was breathing on his own, he didn’t require any monitors and he only needed a couple medications for his heart.

“He is an absolute medical mystery,” Cynthia said.

Numerous surgeries have helped Jaxson continue to improve and grow stronger over the past eighteen months. This week, he will have open heart surgery in Iowa City. Basically, they will take his own tissue and create a fourth chamber for his heart

Cynthia remains amazingly positive through all the ups and downs of raising a special-needs child. She is so thankful that God has allowed her little miracle baby to survive.

“Jaxson will be all right no matter what, he will always know the love of his family, whether it is here or in heaven with God. He’ll be all right, no matter what,” she said. “He is an absolute blessing, he brings everyone a little closer to God, he changes hearts."

Cynthia’s advice to other parents who may be experiencing a similar situation is, “Stay positive, no matter what your baby is going to be okay, don’t worry about the what ifs, just cherish every moment.”

Jaxson’s heart surgery was originally scheduled for about a month ago, but Cynthia has lost her job due to the time she has taken off to care for her baby. She has been inspired by her situation with Jaxson and visiting with other families in the hospital to pursue a degree in neonatal nursing, and her training will begin in November.

To help this young family, prayers are greatly appreciated. Cards or financial assistance can be sent to Cynthia Beverlin at 1848 Chester Ave., Ottumwa, Iowa 52501.