Aiden Francis Hansen
Aiden was born on June 16th 2009 with a rare congenital heart disease, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Aiden’s heart had a drastically underdeveloped left ventricle, which was unable to perform its function of pumping blood to the body. Without surgery, HLHS is fatal in the first weeks of life. Aiden had his first in a series of three open heart surgeries when he was less than two weeks old. The recovery from his first surgery was slow, about twice the typical recovery time. But after 5-weeks at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Aiden was finally able to go home to Santa Rosa for the first time.
Aiden underwent his second surgery at three-months old. Again, there were complications and Aiden required two additional surgeries during his 3-month hospitalization. Aiden returned home but had to have a feeding tube (g-tube) placed just before his first birthday to help him to take in enough calories to grow and thrive.
In July of 2012, Aiden had what was hoped to be the last of his heart surgeries. Following this surgery, Aiden again had complications. He had to have an additional surgery to place a pacemaker due to arrhythmias and heart block. His body had difficulty adjusting to the surgery and Aiden was hospitalized for nearly 2-months.
After returning home, Aiden continued to have difficulties. He developed fluid on his belly (called ascites) and his oral and g-tube feedings were not well tolerated. Aiden began to lose weight. After two years, several hospitalizations, procedures, and medication changes, Aiden’s ascites was finally under control. Unfortunately, he continued to have failure to thrive, with no growth in the two years since his third surgery. Aiden was placed on the heart transplant list in November 2013, due to his failure-to-thrive.
In May, 2014, after months of a chronic cough which often kept him up at night, Aiden was diagnosed with Plastic Bronchitis, another rare and life-threatening diagnosis. Plastic bronchitis is a complication of the heart surgeries and has a high mortality rate. It caused Aiden to have difficulty breathing and a heart transplant was the only cure.
We strove to balance the realities of having a seriously ill child, with the desire to give him as normal a life as possible. So, along with over twenty medication doses daily, g-tube feeds, oxygen saturation monitoring, breathing treatments, lab draws, and doctor appointments, we tried to fill his life with all the joys of childhood.
Aiden delighted in being silly with his sister, Lilah, and was a sweet and caring big brother. Aiden loved playing cars and planes, reading stories, playing board games, and doing artwork. He would always say "come on Lilah, lets..." inviting her to participate in whatever activity he wanted to do next.
Although he tired easily, he loved playing outside, riding his bike to the park, and picking flowers in the garden. He loved playing in the sand at the beach and watching the planes at the airport. Aiden also loved to swing, the higher the better. Aiden attended music class since he was 8 months old and was proud to be going to the big kids music class alone, without his parents.
Recently, Aiden finished his first year of school where he loved learning to read and playing with his friends. He also liked to race. Aiden asked for a pair of tie shoes a couple months ago and couldn't wait to show them to everyone and then say "come on, let's race, ready, set, go!"
When we received the call that a donor heart was available, Aiden raced his bike home and was overjoyed to be getting his new heart. He was all smiles and thumbs up until he finally fell asleep at 1:30 in the morning. He was so tired that he didn't wake up when we kissed him as they rolled him into the OR. Due to having many previous surgeries, this surgery was extremely complex and had many complications. These complications led to extreme blood loss and later, massive strokes. Aiden died peacefully on June 27th 2015 at 2:35am surrounded by his loving family.
Above all, Aiden was a sweet, joyful child, with twinkling eyes and a never-ending smile. In spite of his physical challenges, he met each and every day with endless enthusiasm, love, and joy. Aiden captured the heart of all who met him and his spirit will continue to live on in all those who loved him.