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Showing posts from 2008

Surgery Date


We got a call from the doctor yesterday telling us that Mason's information was presented to the surgeons and he is ready for the next stage of sugery. The surgery has been scheduled for January 12th, with a pre-operation consultation on January 9th. Our prayers are that the surgery will be great success and Mason will only have to be at the hospital for a week or less (the doctors say be prepared for two weeks). If you are curious as to what this surgery entails you can copy/past this link into your address bar.

Mason continues to do very well at home. He has a bit of a cough and some sniffles but we'll get that all cleared up before the surgery. We are very excited to getting this surgery over with, however we are very anxious as well.

Kelsey and I are doing well also, we have been enjoying our time with Mason as he begins to chatter, smile and laugh all the time. He has also been reaching and using his hands a lot, i…

We're getting close


Mason't next surgery is quickly approaching, but it feels like we have had him home for a long least to me it does. It certainly feels like it's been longer than five months. I would have thought it would be the other way around.

Anyway, Mason had a Cardiac Cath last week where they were able to go inside and take a good look at his heart and how everything is functioning. The doctors said things looked good (all things considered) with no big surprises. Dr. Chun, Mason's cardiologist will present the information from the Cardiac Cath to the surgeons this Monday, 11/30. Once the information has been presented the team of doctors and surgeons they will schedule his second open heart surgery called The Glenn. This surgery will most likely take place within the next 2-4 weeks.

Thanks for checking in, Mason is doing very well along with his Mother and I. We'll update you all once we get confirmation of his next surgery date.

God Bless,

The Garkas

Pictures and Update!!

Hi Everyone!!

I can't believe it's been over 2 months since we have updated Mason's blog. I guess things tend to get a bit busy when you have a kid.

Kelsey is back to work...(which I hate, by the way), and things are settling down nicely for us. Just in time for Mason's next surgery and things to get crazy again. Mason is weighing about 15.5lbs and is growing very healthy and strong. His oxygen levels have been staying relatively high and he shouldn't have to see the doctor for anything other than normal check ups and routine visits. Mason's cardiologist thinks his 2nd surgery will land sometime in November. We are not looking forward to it, however we are looking forward to getting it over with.

Thanks for checking in...I'll let everyone know when we hear about his next surgery or any other updates.

Greg & Kelsey

Making Progress

Hi All,

I apologize for such a long delay between updates. Kelsey and I have been pretty busy with Mason, but certainly not too busy that I couldn't have had an update or two since the last one.

Mason is getting bigger and bigger by the day. It is so encouraging for us to see him gaining weight each week we go see the doctor. Often times HLHS babies have a hard time gaining weight because it is so exhausting for them to eat. That has been one area Mason hasn't had a problem with...eating. In fact, it seems like he's getting hungrier and hungrier all the time.

All in all Mason is doing very well as for Kelsey and me too. He developed a bit of an infection on his chest where he had stitches but after taking some antibiotics that has cleared up well. He is also becoming very engaging, making eye contact and trying to be very attentive when talking to him. Sometimes we get a little smile out of him but it won't be long before he is smiling all the time.

Kelsey and …


Hi Everyone,

You know, there are not a whole lot of people in this world that can say they have the kind of family and friends that Kelsey and I have. Last weekend, Kelsey and I were blessed by so many people as they got their cars washed and ate a hot dog in order to support Kelsey, Mason and me. Your donations are going to help us out so much as we begin to tackle the financial hardships of what Mason has endured. Obviously, Kelsey and I do not choice but to be strong, work together and have faith that everything is going to turn out well. However, days like last Saturday make this journey a bit easier. It was so great to be able to bring our son with us and let everybody meet him. Other than a slight sun burn on the bridge of his nose, we think he came out well on what was a pretty busy day for him. Again, thank you to EVERYONE for coming out and supporting Mason, your generosity was overwhelming.

We would publicly like to thank Alex and Christina Carbajal, the Arlington Fire …

Home Sweet Home

We finally made it.

After four long weeks and a very bumpy road Kelsey and I finally got to bring Mason back to his home. It was such a good feeling putting Mason in our own car and walking through our front doors. It is so nice to be here without that feeling that you're missing something.

All in all, things are going pretty good so far. Brady (our dog) is still trying to figure out what's going on and Mason will need some adjusting, but so far he is doing well. The hardest part about being here is the fact that Kelsey and I are now Mason's nurses. We give him a few different medications a couple times a day, along with a shot twice a day. That took some getting used to, but now it's not such a big deal. In fact, I don't even know if Mason realizes he's getting one anymore.

Kelsey and I would like to thank all of you for everything you have done. I know many of you have asked us to let you know if there is anything you can do to help and we haven't …
Since we have found out about Mason's stroke he has been doing okay. The doctors have still not reached the dosage level for the anti-seizure medication so he will remain in the ICU until they get to that point. Mason does have focal seizures every once in a while but once they get his medication where they want it they should stop.

The neurologist told us that the MRI showed that he did have a stroke on the left side of his brain. This area effects motor skills on his right side and speech/language. As far as the doctors can tell, Mason does not have a difference between his movements on either side, which is a good indication that he should be able to overcome the stroke and have normal movement. We won't really know until he grows older. As for his speech and language, he has obviously not learned how to talk yet which means he has not had to store this information in his brain. As he grows older he should be able to store speech and language in a different area and o…

Set Back

Hello All,

Well, things were going very well for us since Mason had his surgery. In fact, earlier this morning the nurse told us that we would most likely be going hom tomorrow. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen.

Mason has suffered a sroke (we think a mild one, but he's having an MRI right now to find out more), so treatment and care is going to have to be extended for at least a few more days. This morning Kelsey noticed his right arm twitching abnormally and mentioned it to the nurse. We didn't really think much of it except that he hadn't done this before. The nurse notified the doctors and they came in to take a look at him. The nuerologist suspected he was having seizures which could be the result of a stroke. Due to the blood thinner, the surgery and the blood clot in his leg they were quite concerned that would be case. They put him on some seizure medication and took him in for a CT scan. The CT scan showed that he had a stroke but weren't sure …

More Progress

Today has been another good day for Mason. Dr. McMullen (Mason's heart surgeon) told us he is doing as well as a baby in his position can do. Yesterday Kelsey and I got the news that Mason could possibly be moved to the floor, which was certainly a surprise for us because we were hoping that would happen by the end of the week. Well, it's Tuesday and we've settled into our new room (with roomates and all). There are so many lines and feeds that Mason has been able to have removed, Kelsey and I are able to hold him whenever we want without getting permission from the nurses. In fact, he has become quite spoiled with being held that he fusses until we put him back in our lap.

On another note, the doctors still think there is a possibility the clot can dissipate. Unfortunately, for this to happen with medicine Kelsey and I are going to having to give him two shots per day when we take him home. I wish I had a picture of the look on Kelsey's face when the doctors t…

Mason's Progress

Hello Again,

Just wanted to let you all know that Mason is still doing very well. He seems to make improvements by the hour. Kelsey and I have been somewhat careful as to who we show his "after surgery" photos to, but we've decided to post them on his website. Mason will someday be proud of what he is going through and will not be afraid to show his scars. He has been a fighter, through and through. This will give you all an idea as to what he has endured. We also see it as God's hands at work.

Happy 4th of July!!

Hi Everyone,

It's been a pretty big day for Mason here at Children's. The doctors were able to close his chest today and Mason's vitals remained stable. Sometimes, after the doctors close the chest the organs are under too much pressure and the chest is needed to be re-opened. Thankfully, it looks like Mason is handling it very well and he will not have to be re-opened. He has also been completely taken off of the nitric-oxide, which the nurses tell us is very good news for that to be taken away so soon.

Mason has slept most of the day and Kelsey and I spent several hours in his room with him. Before the end of the day we were able to watch some of the Seattle fireworks show. It wasn't the best view, but it was good enough.

The next step should be to start feeding Mason into his stomach and working our way towards removing the breathing tube. We are not sure how long that could take, the standard answer around here is, "it could be 3 days or it could be 2 we…

Update 7/3

Hi Everyone,

Mason is doing great! He is in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit recovering from his surgery and doing well. It was a very hard and disturbing sight to see Mason after his surgery but also very relieving. Standard procedure following this surgery is to leave the chest open, this allows the internal organs room to operate as the body tends to swell and crowd the organs. Because of this, I was actually able to touch Mason's heart. The only thing between my finger and his heart was a thin gore-tex patch, it was quite incredible.

The swelling should start to reduce as Mason in beginning to pee more fluids than he is taking in. Once the swelling has gone down the doctors will take him back to the operating room and sew his chest back together, Kelsey and I are very anxious for that day, which should be sometime tomorrow or Saturday.

For now that is all I have for updates. Kelsey and I are doing well and look forward to the day we get to bring him home. But for now we …

Update 7/1

Mason is out of surgery!! Kelsey and I finally got some good news. Dr. McMullen told us the surgery went as expected with no surprises. He told us Mason's heart is "vigorous" and is doing well. Hearing that word was like music to my ears.

We have not been able to see him yet, but we know it will be a tough sight to see. However, we are so thankful that God has kept His hand on our little boy and got him through the first step.

The next 24-48 hours will be critical for Mason as he is still at risk for several issues to arise. We will keep you posted on his progress.

Praise God for His protection on our son.

Greg & Kelsey

Update 6/30

Hi everyone,

Well, this is it. Kelsey and I have been preparing ourselves the best we can for Mason's first surgery. He will head to the operating room tomorrow sometime around 7:00-7:30am.

Many prayers have been said over the past several months by us and by all of you. Thank you so much for the outpouring of support. Kelsey and I are confident that tomorrow will soon pass and it won't be long before we are wiping mud off his clothes, putting him in timeout, or working with him on his homework. Tomorrow is just the first step in a relatively short process compared to the rest of his life.

The blood clot in his leg did not get much better so it is something his body will have to adapt to. His body will adjust to the clot and form additional vessels for blood to flow back up to the heart (isn't God incredible?). So, if you're wondering if there is a chance the clot could break and cause issues we have been assured that that typically only occurs in adults.


Hi Friends,

Mason has been doing pretty good the last couple days. He seems to be taking shape right before our eyes. It's so funny to see how big he looks compared to the other babies. That should fair him well when it comes time for surgery.

Please pray for a blood clot to clear that has formed in his leg. This in not uncommon, however it would obviously be nice to get it taken care of sooner rather than later. They have put him on some additional medication to break up the clot. The doctors are going to do an ultrasound on Sunday to see if the medication is having an effect.

As of right now the surgery is scheduled for this Tuesday, 7/1. If the clot does not get better or takes longer than they would like to clear it could postpone the surgery. Obviously, Kelsey and I don't want this surgery to take place, but we know it is inevitable so additional delays make things pretty tough on us emotionally. We know there are going to be bumps in the road as we progress to…

Moving Right Along


Not a whole lot of new information to share, which is I guess an update in itself. The team of cariologists and surgeons were supposed to have a conference this morning to determine a gameplan for Mason and have a pretty solid date for surgery. The surgeons were not available to meet due to an immediate heart transplant that had to take place. Obviously this is understandable, our prayers go out to the child that needed the transplant as well as to his/her family. We also know that in order to get a heart another child had to pass away so our prayers are with that family as well.

The conference has been rescheduled for Wednesday morning, hopefully we'll get some news as to when Mason's surgery will take place. Kelsey was discharged from the hospital today and is feeling pretty good. She's obviously very sore after 72 hours of labor but is holding up well. We have been able to see Mason everyday. We usually spend a couple hours at a time staring at him, tou…

Pictures of Mason!!

Mason has Arrived!


Let me start out by saying that I have always had tremendous respect for my wife, but the last 72 hours has taken it to a whole new level. Kelsey has gone thru and is still going through some of the most intense pain I could ever imagine. So to all you women out there, God Bless you because the men in this world have it pretty easy when it comes to making babies.

Mason is doing great! He was born June 20th at 8:27pm, 9.45lbs and 21.5" long. God certainly answered prayers making Mason a large baby in order to cope with the surgeries ahead. Kelsey did such an incredible job trying to get Mason out, but the size of him and the position he was in was causing a great amount of pain for Kelsey to endure. She fought through it for 3.5 hours but it was obvious we were going to have to go an alternate route. We elected to have a c-section, which Kelsey handled very well. About 45 minutes later Mason was born and being stablized. I was not able to be in the room when he wa…


Okay, so we went to the hospital last night and spent nearly seven hours preparing for labor, most of which was sitting around watching America's Got Talent. Apparently labor and delivery here at UW was extremely busy last night, so needless to say our stay was quite short. Since Kelsey's induction had not started yet the doctor asked if we "would rather sleep in our own bed." In other words, we would like to use your room for somebody who is actually in active labor. So, the hospital offered to set us up in one of their apartments because we were to come back at 7am. It didn't make much sense to us to drive all the way to Stanwood just to turn around and come back during rush hour 5 hours later.

We packed our things and headed off to the apartment, boy was she a beauty. Aside from the sirens every 15 minutes, the mysterious stains all over the carpet, and the remote control that only work a foot from the TV, it was a great place. We didn't care, howeve…


Hello Everyone!!

Well, the day has finally come. Kelsey and I are scheduled to go to UW tomorrow (Monday, 6/16) for induction. It is truly a blessing that Mason made it this far into the pregnancy. His lungs and other organs should be well developed and ready to tackle anything that comes his way.

We do not know when exactly we'll be going into the hospital, but we should be getting a call in the morning. I know it has been awhile since this website has been updated, but like the old saying news is good news. Since our "Big Scare" last month things have been smooth sailing. They put Kelsey on bed rest (if you want to call it that) and it drastically improved her health. The doctors at Children's (Dr. Holmgeren inparticular) have been so wonderful to deal with. They have really helped ease the ups and downs we have gone through over the past several months.

The updates to this blog will be more frequent now that changes will be more frequent. Please…


Hello all,

Well, Kelsey and I had quite the day today at Children's Hospital and the University of Washington. Originally, the day was going to be jam packed with a "non-stress test" in the morning at Providence in Everett, then off to UW for a tour of the labor and delivery center as well as a visit to Dr. Holmgeren, and topping it off with an ultra-sound with our Cardiologist Dr. Vernon. Kelsey and I knew we were in for a big day...but it turned out to be much bigger than expected.

After visiting Dr. Holmgeren Kelsey had a few routine tests done, such as getting her blood pressure taken. Her blood pressure turned out to be a bit high so for cautionary reason the nurse did a test to see if Kelsey possibly had Preclampcia (not sure if that's how it's spelled). The test turned up positive which we weren't sure what the meant. According to the nurse, it was possible that Kelsey was going to be admitted and depending on the severity of the preclampcia it was …

Mason Update

Hi Everyone,

We had another doctor appointment at Childrens a couple weeks ago but unfortunately I am just now getting around to updating Mason's blog. We did not receive any additional news that we didn't really know already. Dr. Vernon (pediatric cardiologist) was pleased that the left pumping chamber was bigger than what they would normally see in a child with HLHS. This is good since it will make things a bit easier for the surgeons when the time comes.

Mason is due June 20th but Kelsey will most likely be induced sometime a few days before that. We have a couple more visits at Children's Hospital before the due date so there will be more updateds to come before he is born.

As for Kelsey and me we are doing great. We have more support from friends and family that we could ever ask for. We pretty much have his nursery wrapped up with just a few finishing touches to go. Kelsey has had her first of two showers and we were blessed with many gifts and words of encoura…



Kelsey and I had a regular visit with Dr. Barford (our Perinatologist...which is a high risk pregnancy doctor). Things went as well as we could hope for. Typically, when a child is diagnosed with HLHS before they are born the left side of his/her heart is extremely underdeveloped. In Mason's case the right and left sides of his heart are of normal size. Dr. Barford was somewhat surprised to see this because at this stage of the pregnancy (28 weeks) the left side of the heart is usually shriveled up or non-existent. This does not mean that Mason has a normal heart because the left side has scarring and does not function properly. It does mean, however, that it would be much easier for the surgeons to perform surgery on him. Obviously a surgeon would rather perform a surgery on a plum rather than a raisin.

At 28 weeks Mason is about 3.5lbs. and the size of a baby at 29 weeks. This is good news since we want a big and strong baby when he is born because of what he is going…


Hi everybody,

It's been awhile since we've posted any updates or new information on Mason's website...mostly because we haven't had any doctors appointments. We continue to get words of encouragement and support from our friends and thank all of you very much for that. We have a doctors appointment this Friday, 3/28, as well as Friday, 4/11. We will have updates for you after each of these.

If you are curious as to what HLHS is and how it works, please visit the link below. It does a good job of explaining what it is, what the effects are and what Mason will have to go through once he is born. Thank you again for everything, we'll talk to you all soon!!

God Bless,

Greg & Kelsey

Our Day at Children's

Hello all,

Kelsey and I spent the morning at Children's Hopsital in Seattle today, what a place! They sure do a good job of trying to make the kids feel comfortable...part of me didn't even feel like I was at a hospital.

We met with a Cardiologist, Dr. Vernon, and a Paranaetologist, Dr. Holmgren (yes, Mike Holmgren's daughter). Both of them were very nice and extremely informational. Dr. Vernon did confirm that Mason has HLHS and is a candidate for the Fontan Operations, which are the three stage surgeries he will have to go through to get his heart working as normal as possible. Kelsey and I have been talking about where we would want to do the surgeries in case we weren't comfortable with Seattle Children's. We knew going in that Children's in Seattle is one of the premeir hospitals in the country, but weren't sure how they were compared to other hospital's like University of Michigan with this particular heart disease. I'm glad to say that we…

Some GOOD news!!


THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of prayers and words of support that we have been receiving from all of you. It means so much to us that each one of you would take the time to think about us and our son and include us in your thoughts and prayers. Without the support of friends and family like you all, I don't know how a couple could make it through such a nightmare. Thank you again, I pray many blessings for each of you for your relentless support.

Well, as you can see by the title we've decided to officially give him a name. Since we'll be sending updates on his health we figured a name is a lot easier than calling him our "unborn son."

Kelsey and I finally got some good news today from the doctor. The three chromosomes tested came back normal but we'll have to wait until the end of next week for the results on the other 23. However, the three that were test were the ones most likely to be abnormal with this heart ailment…

Mason Gregory Garka UPDATE!!


It is hard to reach out to everybody and let them know that our unborn son has been diagnosed with a heart defect which is obviously putting Kelsey and me through some very hard times. I'm hoping this reaches all of you so I can keep you updated.

Our son has been diagnosed with what's called Endocardial Fibro-Elastosis, which in our language means one of the chambers in his heart isn's able to pump blood properly. Because of this Kelsey had to undergo a couple tests for abnormal chromosomes in which we get the results back on Monday. If our son has abnormal chromosomes this means the likelyhood of him surviving are very slim, whether that occrurs before or after birth we don't know. However, if they are normal his heart defect will turn into what's called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom or HLHS. 20 years ago a child could not survive with HLHS but now there are surgeries that can be done to increase the chance of survival. After he is born he would have to …