Walt’s Journey

On November 18th, 2015, Trey and Liz Morris welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world, Walter Luther Morris IV – “Walt”. Walt was diagnosed at birth with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). The next day, Walt was transported and admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). An echocardiogram confirmed that Walt, like 1/3 of babies born with Down syndrome, had a congenital heart defect (CHD), specifically Complete Atrioventricular Canal defect (AV Canal). The Morris family was faced with the news that at 4-6 months, their precious baby boy would require surgery to repair his heart.

Thankfully, by the grace of God, Walt was only in the NICU for three weeks and was discharged for his first trip home. Walt thrived at home. He was able to gain muscle strength during tummy time; he learned how to communicate by cooing back and forth with daddy and mommy; he had the endurance to take a bottle and gain weight. It wasn’t until around two months that Walt hit a plateau on his weight gain, and the Cardiology Team at ACH set Walt’s open heart surgery date during the month of March.

Three weeks prior to his scheduled open heart surgery, Walt had to be admitted to the Emergency Room at ACH then was admitted to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) due to being dehydrated. His dehydration was caused by Walt having episodes of emesis, along with his twice daily dose of Lasix, which is a diuretic to keep the fluid off his lungs caused by his AV Canal defect. Walt received maintenance fluid and was rehydrated for a short stay of four days in the CVICU step down unit. From their Walt was discharged for a second time to go home and gain strength and get lots of love leading up to surgery.

On March 2nd, 2016, Walt had his AV Canal repaired to perfection; however, the road to recovery has been a battle with Walt the Warrior fighting against every obstacle that has met him face to face. On March 3, Walt was resuscitated after going into a pulmonary hypertensive crisis. Following that, he has had his chest open and closed three times and was put on dialysis to restart the function of his kidneys. On April 1, Walt went to the Cath Lab and was diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction meaning his heart is unable to fully relax which inhibits his heart to completely fill with blood. Causing the blood and bodily fluid travel backwards out of his heart increasing the amount of effusions in his fragile body. Diastolic dysfunction happens to about 10% of babies post-operative surgery. There is no absolute cure or surgery to fix Walt’s heart. Medicine, by means of a beta blocker, can be used to help his heart relax in hopes to fill; but only 20-30% of babies are able to live on such medication. If the medicine doesn’t work, then Walt will start a new journey to be added to the transplant list and wait for a healthy heart. These are the only two options for Walt. Again God has shown his miraculous works because the medicine shows signs of decreased fluid to where Walt’s heart is relaxing, filling and pumping out to the body. On April 14th, Walt successfully received a pacemaker and is now on what the Morris family prays for as the final road to recovery. 

The Morris family knows they are very blessed to not have to carry the burden of medical bills since Walt is covered under several insurance plans due to his diagnosis of Down syndrome and AV Canal defect. The road to recovery is going to be a long and trialing time for the Morris Family, but God has prevailed by giving Walt the most knowledgeable, compassionate and motivated Cardiology team at the CVICU. We are reaching out to the community, friends, and family to join the fight for Walt’s life by making donations to help support Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s CVICU because this amazing group of medical professionals are saving Walt the Warrior’s life and the many other lives of the children and families fighting the same fight against congenital heart defects.