Jeff Stalker

Jeff was born on November 23, 1992 and we immediately knew he had a cleft of the soft palate and low calcium levels. We were told that nothing else was wrong with our son. We took him home on Thanksgiving Day that year and he immediately began having feeding problems. We struggled with these feeding problems for a few months even though we were constantly taking him to see the pediatrician. We finally ended up at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, NE, because Jeff was failing to thrive. We began feeding Jeff through an NG tube and hoped that our struggles were over. They were not. The feeding issues improved, but his constant infections and croupy cough continued to worsen. It wasn’t until Jeff was six years old that everything fell into place. The doctor that had been treating Jeff for asthma knew that there was something else wrong with Jeff and sent us to see a Pulmonologist in Omaha. After a chest x-ray and many other tests it was discovered that Jeff had a right-sided aortic arch and vascular ring (which is a ring of vessels tightly surrounding Jeff’s trachea and esophagus). At that point the 22q FISH test was ordered and came back positive. The diagnosis explained everything that had been wrong with Jeff over the years: feeding difficulties, immune system deficiency, breathing difficulties and croupy cough! A month later Jeff had surgery to separate the vascular ring and things began to improve. Jeff’s aorta will always compress his esophagus, but it doesn’t ever seem to slow him down. He’s an awesome kid who has made our lives amazing!

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