Our son, Caden Andrew Dudt, was born on September 8, 2005, with severe congenital heart defects. At 18 weeks in utero, during a routine ultrasound, we found out that our unborn baby was a boy but we were also told that the ultrasound technician had trouble seeing all four chambers of the baby’s heart. Two days later, we were referred to a local pediatric cardiologist who said that our unborn son had a small left ventricle, a hole in his heart, and his heart was on the right side of his chest. About a month later, we were referred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). It was there that we learned more about our son’s heart. Caden was diagnosed with heterotaxy syndrome, hypoplastic left ventricle, total anomalous pulmonary venous return, double outlet right ventricle, unbalanced AV canal, and pulmonary stenosis. A cardiologist at CHOP indicated that Caden’s survival rate was between 10 and 20 percent. His only chance at survival would be to undergo a series of open-heart surgeries. The first one having to occur immediately after birth, the second one at about 4 to 6 months of age, and then the third one at about 3 to 4 years of age.
Nonetheless, we continued with the pregnancy, leaving Caden’s life in God’s hands. Our faith in God gave us strength and hope, and made the pregnancy still a joyful event. The pregnancy was filled with appointments for fetal echocardiograms and ultrasounds. The plan was for Caden to be delivered at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (HUP) and then transferred across the street to CHOP.
On September 8, 2005, at 12:05 am, Caden was born at 6 lbs., 6 oz. and 17 inches long. Shortly after his birth at HUP, he was transferred to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CHOP for the anticipated surgery. However, examination of his heart and other vital signs miraculously revealed that he would not have to undergo surgery for his heart at that time. He did need minor surgery to repair a function of his digestive system, which resulted in a prolonged hospital stay.
Finally on October 2, 2005, we brought Caden home. At home, Caden continued to grow and thrive. He constantly smiled and giggled and brought much joy into our lives. He had numerous appointments with his pediatrician and pediatric cardiologist. Then on December 16, 2005, Caden returned to CHOP for his first heart catheterization. Once again, Caden surprised his cardiologists. Caden’s heart was functioning well and the pressures were good. His cardiologist at CHOP suggested that Caden undergo his first open-heart surgery, the bi-directional Glenn, sometime in February, so we scheduled the surgery for February 14, 2006. After the heart catheterization, Caden continued to develop and grow at home. Sadly, Caden passed away on January 29, 2006.
Caden will always be remembered as our firstborn, our little boy, our fighter, and our superhero. We will always cherish the memories we have of our precious Caden.
In Caden’s memory, we have created theCaden Dudt Memorial Fund with the help of the Children’s Heart Foundation. Donations to the Children’s Heart Foundation can be made in Caden’s honor and memory by calling Bill Foley at the Children’s Heart Foundation at 847-634-6474 or by going to this page. Please be sure to mention the Caden Dudt Memorial Fund when making the donation.
For more information on Caden, visit his website at www.hearts-of-hope.com/caden.
— Written by Caden's Mommy and Daddy. We love you Caden!!