Martin Gerken

First post: Jan 4, 2020 Latest post: Feb 14, 2020
Katie went in on Tuesday, December 31st for her routine 30 week checkup. During her appointment her doctor listened to Martin’s heartbeat and quickly became worried that he kept picking up Katie’s heartbeat and couldn't find the baby's. Katie was taken into another room and got hooked up to a machine which was showing Martin’s heart rate really low (70s/80s).  Katie’s doctor decided at that time to send her across the street to be monitored closely as Martin's heart rate was very concerning.  Katie walked out of her OB apt and called her mom at about 9:00am to let her know she was going to the hospital (She couldn’t get a hold of Matt at the time).  Katie got to the hospital, where they got her on the monitor, and within minutes the doctor came in and said they’re taking the baby out right away. Everything moved so quickly from there prepping Katie for surgery.  Katie was frantically trying to get a hold of someone to let them know she was going into emergency surgery.  She called her mom at 9:05am to let her know they were taking him out and to try and get a hold of Matt.  Katie was quickly put out for the surgery and by 9:15am Martin "Marty" Walter Gerken was born via Emergency C Section at 30 weeks.  His name is a combination of Katie's maternal grandmothers fathers name and Katie's maternal grandfathers fathers name and his initial match both Mason and Matt's - how sweet!  

Day 1 was a complete whirlwind coming out of surgery and trying to quickly find out what was happening with their baby boy.  Matt, Mason and Katie's parents met at the hospital to help Katie in recovery and process together the events of the day.  It took a while for the providers to update Katie and Matt on Martin (about 7-8 hours) but eventually they were able to sit down with the NICU doctor to go over all the tests.  The NICU doctor told them they were completely surprised to find that he has “Tricuspid Insufficiency” which is a type of valvular heart disease in which the tricuspid valve of the heart, located between the right atrium and right ventricle, does not close completely when the right ventricle contracts. The doctors ordered an Echocardiogram to be done the following day and Katie and Matt got to sit with Martin for the first time - holding his tiny hands, talking to him, etc.  

Day 2 things were going well. Marty was stable and breathing well with the assistance of a ventilator.  He was doing so well, in fact, that the doctors were talking about weaning him off his ventilator depending how the Echocardiogram went.  After Katie and Matt talked with the doctor again they said they really liked how things were going and started feeding Marty breastmilk instead of using the nutrition tube.  The doctors also told Katie and Matt that Marty was doing so well that they might keep him at Southdale, vs. transferring to Children's hospital.

Day 3 Katie and Matt meet with the doctor in the late afternoon and after performing another Echocardiogram he wasn’t worse but also wasn’t getting any better, which prompted them to make the decision to move Marty to Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where he could be closer to the Cardiologists and get the care he needs should things go south. After Marty was transferred, Katie and Matt were able to talk to the Children’s hospital doctor that evening, who stated Marty was diagnosed with a heart condition call Ebstein’s Anomaly.  Katie and Matt were relieved to finally have a true diagnosis and learned that the transfer to Children’s went well.  However, with the diagnosis, they took Marty off breastmilk feedings, put him back on nutrition and were going to perform more Echocardiograms to get a better look at his heart in order to make a plan for next steps.  Katie was also discharged from Southdale the same day and is doing well in her c section recovery. 

Day 4 Katie and Matt were able to meet with the Cardiologists and Surgeons at Children’s to talk about the game plan.  Right now they are watching his PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus), which is an opening between two blood vessels leading from the heart to see if the doctors are able to get this closed by administering medication. If they aren't able to get it closed by medication, they will have to perform a minor surgery to close this opening. Once this opening is closed, the doctors will determine next steps and what the road looks like.  Katie and Matt have received so much support from Children's hospital, the team has been amazing, the services are way more than they expected and the people are great to work with.  The family is feeling positive that Marty is in the best hands!

Katie, Matt and the whole family are so thankful for all the love and support we’ve received so far and that Marty is getting the best care at Children’s.  As you can imagine, Katie and Matt are going through a lot and are unable to keep up with all the calls, texts, emails and messages of support but are so thankful for all the thoughts and prayers.  This caring bridge page was created to post new updates about Marty for friends and family to follow Marty’s story and to alleviate the pressure on Katie and Matt to explain his story via individual messages.  In addition, Katie and Matt have receive a lot of offers to help them out during this time, so should you have it in your heart to help their family financially during this challenging time, please feel free to donate to Marty’s caringbridge site.  Thanks again for all the love, support and prayers for their sweet boy.