Newborn triplet goes through life-saving heart surgery

MADISON, Wis. — A Madison couple doesn’t measure life in minutes, but in heartbeats. Katie and Brooks Rademacher are thankful to count each and every one after a heart wrenching experience giving birth to triplet boys.

“Elliot is a very relaxed little guy. It’s almost like he’s like, ‘I’ve been through some stuff,'” Katie said.

While two of the triplets seemed to be in good health, doctors told Katie that Elliot had a hole in his heart and was diagnosed prenatally with dextro-transposition of the great arteries (d-GTA). Elliot’s critical heart condition would require him to undergo surgery a month after he was born.

“I knew it wasn’t good when three doctors came in after the scan and sat down and said, ‘I think we need to get your husband on the phone,'” Katie said.

UW Health Pediatric Cardiologist Shardha Srinivasan, M.D. explained, “The two big arteries that come out of the heart were switched. It was going to recirculate blue blood into the body and red blood back into the lungs and really, you can’t live that way.”

To complicate the situation even further, Elliot and his brothers were born premature at 35 weeks. Just seven days after the triplets were born, Elliot had a smaller procedure done to fix the hole in his heart and prepare it for the major surgery that would come just weeks later.

“After we got through the surgery, I felt like I could breathe again,” Katie said. “Because there were definitely some days in there where we just had no idea if he would make it out of the hospital.”

Elliot is now back home and has a fully functioning heart with nothing but love to give.

“Dr. Srinivasan was amazing,” Brooks said. “She took the time every single meeting to recap what was wrong with Elliot. Seeing my wife so happy after what she’s accomplished, seeing my older son kiss his baby brothers and seeing each one of them smile is worth everything.”

Katie said she wants Elliot to know what he went through one day and let him know, “You can do anything because look at what you did at the time you were eight weeks old.”

Elliot is doing well but will need to have a cardiac care team with him through adulthood. Doctors say his long-term outlook is good and he likely won’t need any more surgeries.