A Littleton couple who decided to start a family didn’t realize how much they'd have to fight to bring a new life into the world.
Larisa Stur didn't plan to have a baby shower Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. But after complications, she’d end up celebrating here.
“Your water broke?” asked a friend at the shower. “Again, yeah,” Larisa said. “But it was like Niagara Falls this time,” she laughed.
She and her husband Bryan always wanted to share their love with a little one. They'd tried many times to make it happen.
“I was ready to accept the fact that we might not ever be able to have our own,” Bryan said.
Eventually the heartbeat of a little boy heard during an ultrasound became very real.
“I think I was chosen with my son on purpose for this. And I accept,” Larisa said.
They'd name the unborn child Xavier after the determined patron saint of missions because the hurdle of just being was only the first of many.
“I remember the Ultrasound technician saying, 'I don't know if your baby is going to be OK,'” Larisa recalled.
“Xavier has a complex heart defect,” Dr. Steven Leonard said, a surgeon at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. “He has a single ventricle. He actually has two ventricles but the left ventricle is very, very small. So he only has one functional ventricle. And then the pulmonary artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs was narrowed.”
It’s a rare heart defect. If Xavier survived birth, it would be Dr. Leonard who’d have to go in and mend the little boy’s tiny heart.
“I had to accept that Xavier might die in my womb,” Larisa said. She refused to give up the child despite the complications.
Larisa and Bryan prayed and waited for Xavier to fight, to show the world his heart is bigger than what's in his tiny chest.
In late December, weeks earlier than anticipated, it was time. Larisa had sharp pain. Xavier was coming via an emergency C-section.
“He was purple. And completely limp,” Bryan said. “Looked lifeless. They were saying he is not breathing.”
One long minute later, little Xavier let out his first cry. The first major hurdle cleared.
The little man on a mission arrived in this world a month before doctors had planned. His parents had barely been able to hold the baby, confined to the tubes and pumps that keep his tiny broken heart working.
Dr. Leonard comforted the family ahead of Xavier’s first surgery. Then he and his team got to mending several broken hearts.
“We want these children to be kids. We just want them to live life to the fullest,” Leonard said.
Several frightening weeks later, Xavier's heart is still pumping. Surgery went well. Larisa's prayers were answered.
“It worked! It was a major success!” she said. “He has a really special heart and in multiple ways. In emotional ways he's such a fighter.”
The family made their way home after what seemed an eternity in the hospital.
Xavier and his parents are doing well. He'll have to have another heart surgery in several months and a third when he's about 2 or 3 years old. It will hopefully allow him to be a normal kid with some restrictions.