Battling defects, little boy fights for stronger heart
Just like the Grinch in the storybook holiday tale, Hudson Linse has a heart smaller than normal. But Hudson is nothing like a Grinch and it certainly isn’t because he lacks Christmas spirit.
Hudson was born with congenial heart defects in which he only had one ventricle. In his short life of 20 months, Hudson has already undergone four open-heart surgeries. He is currently recovering at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester from the most recent open-heart surgery, which is the biggest one he has had to date.
The congenial heart defects Hudson was born with include double outlet right ventricle, Wolff White Syndrome and Hypo Plastic left heart. Hudson underwent his first open-heart surgery when he was just three days old.
The most recent surgery took place on Nov. 13 when doctors took his heart and made it into two ventricles. Since the surgery, Hudson has developed some complications and is expected to remain in the hospital well past the holidays. His mother, Jamie Linse, has remained at his side throughout the entire ordeal. She doesn’t know exactly when Hudson will be released, but it will likely be until late January.
“Surgery is a temporary bandage to make him have the best life now,” Jamie said. “It’s not a fix or cure. It’s just making it so he can live. Every day is a miracle.”
With Hudson in ICU, James stays with him every chance she gets. She stays at the near-by Ronald McDonald House. “It’s hard for me to leave the hospital,” she said. “I wouldn’t have to be here, but I want to be here every day and be involved in his care.”
Of the most recent surgery, Jamie said, “It has been very emotional for me. It’s a tough situation. It’s stressful and there are tears. Very tough mentally and emotionally.”
Since the surgery last month, Hudson has been heavily sedated with drugs. “He’s not too aware of anything,” Jamie said.
Jamie takes comfort in knowing Hudson won’t remember anything that’s happening to his young body. “It’s a blessing that all the big surgeries are done,” she said.
When he’s not in the hospital, Hudson receives outside help from Owatonna Schools with the Grow with Me program. A school worker comes to the Linse house to work with Hudson on fine motor skills and social skills, including speech. He walks with the aide of a walker.
Hudson’s ordeal in landing a stronger heart has put a drastic strain on the Linse family. His father, Gene Linse, stays at their rural Steele County home with Henry, who is 6 years old and just started kindergarten this year. Henry had stayed at the hospital in the past prior to starting school this fall.
Gene has been forced to reduce his work schedule to part time in order to accommodate getting Henry off to school in the mornings. Other family members jump in to help in the afternoons. He is a truck driver with Waterford Oil Co. of Northfield and also volunteers in the community as a special deputy with the Steele County Sheriff’s Office.
The Linses knew about some of the problems Hudson would encounter even before he was born. During a 20-week ultrasound, doctors couldn’t get a good picture of his heart and immediately sent Jamie to Rochester for further testing. She said it became tough trying to enjoy the rest of her pregnancy knowing something wasn’t quite right with her unborn.
Hudson will never function with a normal heart. Doctors estimate that his heart will have the functionality of about 67 percent, according to Jamie. Hudson will not be able to be involved in any contact sports, but should be able to bicycle and run, she said. “He won’t have endurance,” she added.
The little boy is expected to have lifelong cardiology appointments to monitor his situation. What exactly happens moving forward will depend on how his heart grows.
“We’re hoping for a good case where he will just need tune-ups for the valves rather than another open heart surgery,” Jamie said, adding he mainly has non-invasive procedures ahead of him.
Family and friends are planning a Winter Festival benefit for Hudson on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Witt Farms located south of Blooming Prairie. Jamie’s sister, Tracy Pittman, Erin Pittman and Emma Basness are organizing the fundraiser, which will feature sleigh rides, bonfire, cookies and refreshments. There will be a free-will donation.
The sleigh rides will feature the Pittman Percherons, which win awards in horse shows throughout the state every summer. Hudson is a big supporter of the horses. “He loves the horses. He completely lights up when he sees the horses,” Tracy Pittman said. “We consider him part of the pit crew,” she added.
Tracy said the fundraiser is one way for the Pittmans to give back to Hudson.
“It’s very hard to see him sedated and kind of just laying there,” Tracy said, noting Hudson is normally a very free-willed boy who “talks your ear off.”
Jamie hopes to take a break from the hospital and attend the fundraiser for a short time. “I want to give some people hugs and love for being there,” she said.