MERCED -- Joy Akers remembers watching TV shows about rare and possibly fatal medical conditions. It was a mindless diversion, a fate she believed would never happen to her own family.
Until it did.
Ten months ago, after the birth of her second child, Logan, the Merced woman's world turned upside down.
At 3 weeks old, Logan nearly died of symptoms related to a congenital heart defect called Shone's syndrome.
It's a condition that rendered the left side of his heart barely functional.
"It's a constellation of problems affecting his heart," said Teresa Schill, Logan's primary care physician. "There are several defects, not just one."
Logan had been sick for a few days, so Akers brought him to see his physician, who said he seemed extremely dehydrated and needed to be hospitalized.
Once at Mercy Medical Center, tests showed that Logan needed immediate medical attention from specialists.
"It was determined he needed to be Medi-flighted to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera," Akers remembered. "When we got to the hospital, we knew something was severely wrong because the room was full of white lab coats." Many of the doctors had never seen anyone with Shone's syndrome, she added.
Shortly after Logan was admitted to the hospital, a doctor explained to Akers that her infant would need open-heart surgery in the next 36 hours.
It was the first of three open-heart surgeries he's undergone.
His most recent was Aug. 2 to try to replace his mitral valve with an artificial one.
It didn't work.
Because Logan's heart is so small, none of the artificial valves available would fit him. Instead, surgeons cleaned out his mitral valve.
Now the family is in a waiting game to see if Logan's mitral valve grows large enough to fit the available artificial valves, said Paula Akers, Joy's mother.
If the surgery doesn't help, Logan will need a heart transplant.
And if that happens, his case will be transferred to the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.
The medical center would have to determine if Logan is a good candidate for a heart transplant.
Because of Logan's heart condition, he has suffered some lung damage, Akers said.
According to Schill, fluid has filled up in Logan's lungs because of blockage in his mitral valve, damaging his lungs.
The only other option is a heart and lung transplant at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.
According to the hospital's Web site, its medical team has performed the double surgery on 25 patients.
Mark Akers said the success rate isn't high.
Joy said she wonders if it would be worthwhile to put Logan through such trauma.
"You'd rather see this on TV or in a movie because in a movie some medical miracle may happen," Akers said.
Even if the family gets an OK from the Palo Alto hospital, said Paula, finding a donor that young is rare.
A grin seems to be tattooed across Logan's face. He's constantly giggling and playing with anything that catches his attention.
Only when his mother lifts up his shirt does it become apparent the youngster has a problem -- a reddish-pink line stretches from the top of his chest to his lower abdomen.
Joy, who works in the cardiac department for Mercy doing medical billing, said she and her husband, Kirk Stokes, are planning to move in with their parents at the end of the month to save money and to have more helping hands around them.
Joy said she hasn't been able to work much since Logan was born because of his condition. Stokes is a stay-at-home father.
As the months multiply, so do Logan's medical bills.
Whatever decision is made for the child, the family faces huge medical costs. So to help reduce the economic blow, Mark set up an account at Citibank in his name for people to make donations to support Logan's medical care.
That would be a heartfelt response to a little boy with only half of one.
Donations can be made to Citibank account 40012602047 in the name of Logan Stokes in care of Mark Akers.