Courageous & Caring: Heart Hero Jackson

Courageous & Caring: Heart Hero Jackson

written by Stacie Orsini

Jackson Thomas (J.T.) Sordi
07/10/03 – 07/26/03

In July of 2001, my husband Roman and I moved to Lewes, Delaware from Pittsburgh, PA to start our life together. He had just finished residency and we were ready to move on to the next chapter of our life. Shortly after our move, we met Mark and Roxanne Sordi at a dinner hosted by mutual acquaintances. Little did we know we would soon become lifelong friends.

In 2003, Roxanne and I were each both due to have our first child- or should I say children, as Roxanne was pregnant with twins. We were both thrilled!

Sixteen weeks into Roxanne’s twin pregnancy, she presented with bleeding and went to the obstetrician for an ultra-sound. The sonographer was able to note the source of her bleeding and incidentally detected a Congenital Heart Defect. The right atrium of Jackson’s heart was growing at an alarming rate. From that point on, his status was monitored every four weeks via ultrasound by pediatric cardiologists. 

It was difficult to determine the etiology of Jackson’s ever growing heart. Was it Ebstein’s Anomaly caused by a malformation of the tricuspid valve? Or was Pulmonary Atresia preventing blood flow from the right ventricle? Opinions and descriptions varied from a myriad of medical professionals. The consensus was that no one would know for sure until after he was born. Additionally, the team concurred that he would need critical care and corrective surgery soon after birth. That is, if he survived. There was serious concern that his condition could deteriorate in-utero and that his potential death could jeopardize the life of his twin. We were informed around twenty weeks into the pregnancy that he may not make it five more weeks. 

A plan was put into motion to deliver the babies at Christiana Hospital and have Jackson transferred immediately to AI DuPont Hospital. Jackson’s heart was extremely generous both physically and metaphorically. He was an extraordinarily courageous and caring brother, fighting to hold on until thirty-seven weeks to be born and to bring his sister into the world. He was a healthy 5 lbs. 11 oz for a twin.  

We were all certain that since he had made it that far that he would survive. 

The doctors on the delivery and transport team worked quickly to stabilize him for the transfer to the next hospital. He was hooked up to numerous monitoring devices. I was honored to have been able to actually see Jackson and feel a connection with him before his last day on this Earth arrived. At four days old he underwent a catheterization procedure. The next day he had open-heart surgery. Although the surgeons were able to correct the physical structure of his heart, it was never able to function independently of machines. Over the next week and a half, Jackson’s other organs began to fail. At sixteen days Jackson Thomas Sordi was taken off life support and Mark and Roxanne witnessed the birth of an angel. 

I remember very clearly it was 11:59am on July 26, 2003. My husband and I were in the car and I knew Jackson was being taken off of life support at 12:00pm. The clock flipped from 11:59 to 12:00. At that moment, “Calling All Angels” by Train played on the radio and I received 2 phone calls. One was from Mark and Roxanne stating that they had removed life support from Jackson and one was from another friend who had delivered her baby girl. They say when one door closes, another opens, right?? 

Jackson was in this world for a short 16 days but our Angel and Heart Hero will always be remembered. His twin sister, Samantha, is now 13 years old, along with another set of twins, Brianna and Celina, who are 9. Each year on the anniversary of Jackson earning his angel wings, Mark and Roxanne go to the beach where we live and release balloons.

Posted in: Awareness, CHD, Heart Angel, Heart Hero of the Month, Heart Heroes

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