Believing in Miracles
Twin brothers Logan and Owen Bushaw have seen more pediatric intensive care surgeons, cardiologists, genetics doctors, gastrointestinal specialists, nephrologists, and pulmonologists than most people see in a lifetime. Together they have endured 17 various surgeries and procedures.
And they’re not even in kindergarten yet.
Logan was born with a single ventricle heart, one of the most severe congenital heart defects Heterotaxy Syndrome (the right side of his body duplicated itself) and lacked a spleen—critical in helping him fight infections. Owen was born with duodenal atresia—his stomach and intestines weren’t connected—as well as a nonfunctional thumb and an imperforated anus, or lack of a normal anal opening.
Considering the challenges they’ve faced, both twins are doing remarkably well today, says Natalie, the twins’ mother. She attributes their impressive recoveries to an amazing team of doctors and nurses at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, the boys’ fighting spirits, the support of friends and family, the couple’s positive attitudes, and the power of prayer.
“We have always been a family of strong faith, and throughout our journey, our faith has only strengthened,” Natalie says. “We have seen multiple miracles. There is literally no other explanation.”
The journey begins
Ever since Ben, a math teacher and coach at Simley High School, and Natalie, who leads public relations and cause marketing for Macy’s North, found out they were expecting twins in 2003, it’s been a rollercoaster ride.
First they learned that their babies shared an amniotic sac (a potentially dangerous situation due to the possibilities of tangled umbilical cords), then they learned about the boys’ stomach and heart problems, then doctors said both babies might have Down syndrome.
“We were dumbfounded,” Ben says. “We hugged, we cried, we prayed, we begged God to protect our little babies and to help us deal with whatever was to come next.”
No matter how terrifying the situation, they tried to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We don’t fret about the future,” Natalie says. “We try to make smart decisions but don’t let worry get in our way. This is the situation; this is the plan; and then we simply push forward.”
Counting their blessings
Owen was surgery-free and healthy by March 2004 and has “soared ever since,” Natalie says.
Logan’s battles haven’t been quite as simple.
He underwent his first heart surgery in October of 2003. The surgery was successful, and he was home within 12 days. A week later he was back at the hospital for malrotated intestines. He stayed in the hospital for three weeks.
In March of 2004, Logan had emergency surgery to fix a rare flipped stomach. An infected femoral IV line became a staph infection, leading to bacterial meningitis. Logan went septic and had two seizures. He again spent weeks in the hospital.
When he was 3, open-heart surgery led to acute liver and kidney failure. He endured nine days of dialysis, a collapsed lung, and an accelerated heart rate of 280 beats per minute (three times what it should be). The doctors had to shock his heart to slow it down.
Looking at Logan and Owen today, you’d never know how much they’ve been through. They’re happy, bright, spunky kids who love to laugh and play and learn and explore. Logan may one day require a heart transplant, but for now he’s just like any other 4-year-old.
The family’s emotional journey has inspired Ben and Natalie to support the mission of the American Heart Association in the hopes that their story will help others. (Natalie will tell their story at the Twin Cities Heart & Stroke Gala Oct. 27). Furthermore, in her role at Macy’s North, she works with Macy’s stores to embrace Go Red For Women through various events and in-store promotions. If the Bushaws can help just one family, they reason, then their involvement has been a success.
The last four years remind the Bushaws’ how far they’ve come and how fortunate they’ve been.
“While we’re so glad to have moved beyond where we started, we never want to really forget how protected we’ve been, the miracles we’ve been a part of, and how tough our little boys are,” Natalie says. “Every day is a blessing.”