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Jordan the Heart Warrior

Jordan and family

Jordan was welcomed into the world following a healthy full-term pregnancy and birth. He was deemed healthy during his newborn exam and at his early pediatric visits. Around 7 weeks of age, he began breathing rapidly, sweating profusely when eating, and seemed to be struggling with breathing. A pediatric visit revealed he was not gaining weight despite frequent nursing.

“My instincts told me something was wrong and that he needed to be evaluated in the emergency department at Rady Children’s,” recounts mom, Lauren. “We didn’t know just how sick he was or that we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital for the next month.”

Within hours, the family got the devastating news that Jordan’s heart was significantly enlarged; he was in severe heart failure.

“Initially we were given the diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy. Early discussions with Jordan’s cardiac team revolved around survival rates, heart transplant, and lifelong medications,” Lauren says. “What followed was many tests, procedures, imaging, prolonged intubation, and cocktails of medications to keep Jordan alive.”

Several days later, while inpatient at Rady Children’s, an exceedingly rare congenital cardiac defect called Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA) was found. It occurs in 1 in 300,000 live births, however, the anatomy in Jordan’s coronary arteries was so unusual his defect is considered even rarer. Lack of oxygenated blood pumping to his heart muscle caused multiple heart attacks, resulting in weakening, enlargement, and severe damage to his little heart. Jordan was critically ill and even simple movements created stress on his weakened heart. Drug-induced paralysis became necessary to reduce his metabolic demands. He endured a complex open-heart surgery on cardiopulmonary bypass six days after admission to Rady Children’s and another open-heart surgery followed a few days later after the initial surgery revealed more surgical intervention was needed.

“Significant post-op complications occurred as his body was so weak it was unable to sustain itself,” says Lauren. “He suffered cardiac arrest twice, requiring resuscitation, defibrillation, and compressions for 30 minutes. ECMO life support kept him alive until he became stronger. During his recovery and fight to live, one of the hardest things to witness was the withdrawals he suffered as he was being weaned from the narcotics in his body.”

Fast forward a few months and Jordan’s condition has improved dramatically, although the road ahead will have challenges. He is followed closely in the heart failure clinic at Rady Children’s with regular cardiac echograms, labs, and other tests. He takes cardiac medications daily. He participates in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other early intervention services.

“He will always have congenital heart disease and will need to be followed by a cardiologist for the rest of his life,” Lauren says. “However, he is doing remarkably well and has not just survived but is thriving. Jordan is really a miracle. And that is thanks to the entire team in the CTICU at Rady Children’s, from the nurses and doctors to the support staff. They were fantastic, warm, caring, and knowledgeable. They really treated Jordan as if he were their own. It was heartwarming to see how Jordan’s medical team went above and beyond to care for our son. I am so thankful for the team at Rady Children’s for giving Jordan a second chance at life.”

And to pamper her on Mother’s Day, Lauren received a special surprise from the Alex Morgan Foundation, Rady Children’s and Nike. The organization gifted new moms an Essentials Kit that included baby onesies, blankets, and a food delivery gift card to provide extra support during this difficult time. It was a heartfelt gesture that was very much appreciated.

“Now, Jordan is nearly 9 months old. He is such a curious, active, and happy baby. He loves his big sister, laughs, and enjoys the love of the people around him. The best thing about being a mom of two is having two little ones to show the world to and have fun with, teach them new things, and learn from them,” says Lauren. “When Jordan was so sick, we made a wish for him to be able to do anything his heart desires; maybe drive go-karts and play soccer. I grew up playing club soccer and love it. My husband enjoys racing go-karts. But whatever he decides to do, I will always be so proud of Jordan and am humbled that I get to be his mom. Jordan is a heart warrior, a life warrior, and a true champion.”“Mother’s Day this year had even more meaning for me as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the gift of life. I appreciate that Alex Morgan is making such a positive difference for moms, girls and families like me in our community,” says Lauren.

The Alex Morgan Foundation is passionate about helping girls and women find confident paths forward in sports and in life. The organization invests in meaningful programs that share its commitment to building a more empowered future in San Diego and beyond.