HAYS — The note taped to the front door of Cade and Tiffany Scott’s home in Hays reads: “Home of a heart warrior. Please do not enter if you are sick, have been sick or have been around someone sick.”
The “heart warrior” is the Scotts’ son, William, who at 7 months old has already had three heart procedures and is scheduled for open heart surgery Nov. 12 in California.
Cade teaches history at Hays Middle School and serves as the boys basketball coach and assistant track coach. Tiffany, a registered nurse, works with Southwind Surgical.
William and his twin sister, Layla, were born March 4 at Hays Medical Center. The Scotts have two older children, Graham, 5, and Lakin, 3.
The day after the twins’ birth, the family learned that William was born with a rare heart defect.
“Basically, the bottom of his heart is open, and he is missing his pulmonary artery and valve, which take blood from the heart to the lungs,” Tiffany said.
Within a few hours of the infant’s diagnosis, William was airlifted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Tiffany, who had just had a C-section the day before, was not cleared to fly, so her parents drove her and newborn Layla to Kansas City.
Cade flew with his newborn son to Kansas City.
“Because I have no medical background, I had no idea at first of how serious things actually were,” Cade said. That all changed when Cade watched his son code on the plane.
But the baby stabilized. A few days later, when William was a week old, doctors performed a heart catheterization and placed two stents in the infant’s heart to allow blood flow to his left lung. The couple was told their son would need additional open heart surgery.
William came home March 21, accompanied by an oxygen monitor and a scale.
The couple and William flew to Palo Alto, Calif., for an appointment on Sept. 5, and William had another heart catheterization, which revealed he was outgrowing his stents.
The couple will leave Hays on Nov. 7 to make the 25-hour drive to Palo Alto. William will undergo surgery on Nov. 12. By driving, they can take their own oxygen machine, and it will lower the risk of infection from other passengers, Tiffany said.
William will need further heart catheterizations as he grows. He will also need valve replacements as a toddler, a teenager and as an adult.
The Scotts will spend from two to four weeks in California with William as he recovers. The couple is on a waiting list to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto but won't know until they arrive if there will be a room for them. While they are gone, the couple’s other three children will stay with family in Hays.
If William comes down with the slightest cold between now and when the family arrives in California, his surgery will have to be rescheduled — thus the sign on the family’s front door.
"We are so grateful and thankful for the people who have supported us so far, not just people we know, but people we don’t know. And not just monetarily, but supporting us with their prayers. It means so much," Cade said.