JP Tedesco grinned under a new firefighter helmet as his dad brought him down from the front of a firetruck.
The McAlester 4-year-old loves fire engines and smiled as he toured some emergency vehicles Friday at the McAlester Fire Emergency Response Complex. After looking through the vehicles, he bashfully thanked McAlester firefighters, friends and family gathered at the complex in a ceremony before the Tedescos take JP to Boston for heart surgery.
“It means a lot that you guys did all this for us,” John Tedesco told those gathered.
“The support is overwhelming and I’m already emotional enough,” BreAnn Tedesco said.
JP Tedesco was born April 4, 2016 in Muskogee in what his mother called a normal pregnancy — but 20 minutes after the birth, she noticed her son’s nails looked blue.
The family soon found out JP was born with transposition of the great arteries (TGA) — a rare heart defect in which the two main arteries are transposed.
Doctors also diagnosed JP with mitral valve anomalies, septal defects (holes in the heart), subpulmonic stenosis with septal hypertrophy, bicuspid aortic valve, borderline hypoplastic left, and pulmonary hyptertension.
After corrective surgeries and finally getting to go home after a month, BreAnn administered medications, checked vital stats and feared for her child’s life as his oxygen saturation level declined.
Normal oxygen saturation level is 95-100 % and anything under 90% is considered low. Mental function becomes impaired around 65% and loss of consciousness starts around 55%.
JP’s level was at 85% during the first week back home while waiting to have a corrective operation. But it fell to 80% the next week, then 75% a week later.
“I visually could see my time ticking down on when we had to do this procedure,” BreAnn previously told the News-Capital.
The Tedescos tried to figure out which hospital was best for JP, and at the time, BreAnn said, Boston Children’s Hospital had done more arterial switches and mitral valve surgeries than other hospitals.
Boston Children’s Hospital was booked for months — but called the Tedescos weeks later to inform them of a cancellation opening a spot for JP.
The family packed and planned the trip in just 30 hours before driving to Boston for what was supposed to be a six-hour surgery.
However, doctors resorted to a replacement valve, performed an arterial switch and fixed some holes in JP’s heart in a 10-hour procedure.
JP also suffered a heart attack during the procedure before he had another open-heart surgery and was put into a medically induced coma for four months before being able to return home.
The family moved to McAlester about a year ago after John accepted a position at Southeast Clinic with McAlester Regional Health Center. There, he met physician Misty Branam, whose family became friends with the Tedescos.
Misty’s family recently hosted a lemonade stand and silent auction to raise money for the Tedescos for their journeys to Boston and other medical expenses.
The family has driven their RV to Boston for surgeries at least six times since and is preparing for another trip.
John told those gathered Friday that doctors would change JP’s valve and it would likely take a few weeks.
The family documents the journey on a Facebook page called Tedesco Strong, JP’s Heart Journey.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at email@example.com Kelci McKendrick contributed to this story.