Family hopes respite from boy's heart troubles will last

A long road to third birthday

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comOctober 2, 2012 

It will be a big deal for Joy and Kirk Stokes' son, Logan, to turn 3 on Friday.

The family has racked up massive medical bills and has undergone constant struggles worrying about the health of their second child.

"But you're here. We'll take it," his mother told Logan on Friday afternoon. "It's OK, it's worth it."

The soon-to-be 3-year-old was featured in the Sun-Star in 2010 when he and his family were experiencing hardships related to his condition and weren't sure what his outcome was going to be. But he seems to be beating the odds.

He almost died when he was 3 weeks old and started experiencing severe symptoms related to a congenital heart defect, Shone's syndrome. He was born with parts of his heart underdeveloped. He had his first surgery when he was 23 days old. He had three open-heart surgeries by the time he was 10 months old.

His most recent surgery, in August 2010, was to try to replace his mitral valve with an artificial one. But his valve was so small, it didn't match the artificial one.

Surgeons ended up clipping the top of his valve, hoping that as he grew older, it would stretch to allow more adequate blood flow or be big enough to replace with an artificial one. It's growing, but it needs to grow more before that can happen.

"The last surgery is working," Joy said. "So far, so good."

In the future, if surgeons can't replace Logan's mitral valve, the other option would be to have a heart and lung transplant at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.

"He still has a rocky road ahead of him," Logan's grandfather Mark Akers said.

But his parents remain optimistic because of the good results he's had so far.

"We hope it keeps growing," his mother said. "He's done much better from how bad he was to the little guy that we have now."

He's a "ball of energy," said Kirk, a stay-at-home dad. His son used to take three doses of medication per day to keep liquid from forming around his heart; he's down to one.

"It's amazing what God has been able to do," he said.

Kirk credits the doctors at Children's Hospital Central California for all their hard work.

"We love each one of them," Kirk said.

And this week, family and friends will celebrate Logan's birthday with a SpongeBob-themed party.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or

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