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Jason Simpson, WHNT News 19 Chief Meteorologist, returns to our evening newscasts on Monday, June 1.  He has been spending time with his family for the past few weeks after the birth of son Brody on May 8, 2015.  Brody is making progress, but the family asks for your continued thoughts and prayers as he continues to battle several complications.

Here is a personal note from Jason on what’s happened the last few weeks.

Brody Michael Simpson (Image: Crystal Wilkerson Photography)
Brody Michael Simpson (Image: Crystal Wilkerson Photography)

Nothing about Brody’s life is ordinary; that includes the way he elbowed his way into the world on May 8, 2015.  I got home at my ordinary time on an ordinary night on Thursday, May 7th, but the ordinary turned to excitement before I could even get to sleep.  Brody Michael decided it was time to be born (a few weeks early), and he took his first breath at 6:28 AM Friday morning after an exhausting night.

The excitement quickly turned to fear; Brody had some severe birth defects, and doctors swept him to the NICU at Huntsville Hospital before Lacey and I could really understand what was happening.  The news hit us like a ton of bricks; we had no foreknowledge of his problems.

Hours passed.  Several doctors and surgeons consulted with us before we could see Brody again.  By the time we got to see him, he was under the warmer; I-V lines, probes, and tubes covered our sweet little guy who looked so different with all of that equipment.  We rolled back to Lacey’s room on the fifth floor trying to grapple with what we already knew, but more bad news was coming.  Our cardiologist came into the room a few hours later; Brody’s heart worked, but it would not last long without surgery.  A severe coarctation (narrowing) of the aorta prevented sufficient blood flow; without the other visible issues, the heart condition might have been found too late.

The words “we are going to have to transfer you to…” seemed to take forever to roll off the doctor’s tongue.  “…Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.”  An exhausting, emotional day took a turn, and a heavy, crushing kind of fear weighed on us.  We knew Children’s to be top-notch.  We knew UAB had the best of the best in medicine.  We knew he would be in the best hands in the world, but all of this hitting at one time was just too much to handle.

Romans 8:26 says “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  I’ve probably read that and heard that a hundred times or more over the years, but Lacey and I were about to figure out what it really meant.  There were no words to pray; it was just a deep, inward groaning begging for Brody’s life.

Brody stayed stable in Huntsville Hospital’s NICU until noon Sunday when the Children’s helicopter arrived to take him to Birmingham.  Lacey and I drove to Birmingham that afternoon, and Brody had his first surgery at Children’s the next day.  He had to recover from that before open heart surgery on Thursday, May 21st.  He stayed on medication keeping a ductus open so that blood would circulate between the heart and lungs.

Lacey Simpson with son Brody (Image: Crystal Wilkerson Photography)
Lacey Simpson with son Brody (Image: Crystal Wilkerson Photography)

Fear built over those days leading up to the operation, but we knew we had to hand Brody to God.  That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds when you hear about it or read about it.  Pediatric surgeons Dr. David Cleveland and Dr. Robert Dabal rebuilt and reworked Brody’s aorta in a two-hour operation. Brody came off by-pass and moved back to CVICU for recovery; Dr. Cleveland personally brought us the good news of a successful surgery.  Brody’s unusual cardiovascular set-up is so unusual that these two seasoned surgeons tell us it may be the first-ever occurrence of this particular condition.

Our little man is still recovering and learning to eat; heart babies have a very tough time with that for a number of reasons (some known, some unknown).  We expect him to be home in Huntsville within the next two weeks.  He’s a tough little man and a bigger fighter than I ever imagined an infant could be.  We are thankful to God, the surgeons, doctors, nurses, and the countless number of people who have been praying for our family through this storm.  We are also thankful for the Melissa George Fund’s contributions to the amazing NICU at Huntsville Hospital and for those who have made Children’s of Alabama such an incredible facility.

Jason Simpson feeds a bottle to Brody
Jason Simpson feeds a bottle to Brody

The Simpsons are now a part of an exclusive club that no one ever wants to join, but none of us have a choice in the matter.  We are put here together to love and support each other.  Some are here for a few days, some for a few weeks, some for over a year, and some never make it home.  We don’t know why, but I’ve learned not to ask that question.  Sometimes it feels like lightning is striking all around with bad news in the next room, alarms down the hall, tearful moms and dads in the waiting room; we are blessed that Brody is recovering, but we will never forget to pray for the other children in this unit and those who serve them.

We will also never look at those little $1 Children’s Miracle Network Balloons and the Ronald McDonald House Charities the same way again.  Some of those one-dollar “balloon” donations helped fund the technology, train the surgeons, and build the hospital that saved my son’s life.  Donations to Ronald McDonald House helped give us a close, comfortable place to lay our heads during the biggest trial of our lives.

Brody still has a long road ahead of him.  There will be more surgeries in coming months, but we are thankful that God delivered him through what may be the toughest fight of his life.  Pray for him, but remember to lift up all of these that are around us, too.