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November 22, 2018 • Headline News
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River surrounded by prayers, love


Hawk Hutton, 3, giving his little brother, River, a tender kiss, holding him close. They already have a bond, according to their father, Derik Hutton, even though River has struggled just to live since he was born in June.

Wanda English Burnett

It’s an attitude of gratitude the Hutton family has after the outpouring of love from the community has helped them through a rough time.

Casey and Derik Hutton were preparing for their second child, when something wasn’t quite right. “We knew at 20 weeks about River’s heart condition,” Derik told The Versailles Republican. They knew their precious baby would have an uphill struggle and so would they, but they chose life.
The heart defects are complex individually – DORV and TAPVR – but, the Huttons were told their unborn baby had both. In a short description of what the defect is, they posted on Facebook, “with TAPVR his pulmonary vein could be obstructed, which would make BABY need immediate surgery after birth. This was posted on June 4, when Casey was 34 weeks along. And, he did need surgery immediately after he came into this world. Derik told The Versailles Republican “we didn’t even see him until after the surgery when he was hooked up to numerous machines, with lines running everywhere.” It looked bleak, but, this family held on to their love for each other, their son, Hawk, and the hope that their second son could survive what would come. A Facebook entry on June 26 noted, “River had his chest closed this morning.” From the time he was born until then, his chest cavity was open, according to his father. This was a monumental milestone in time.

“We were in the CICU, cardiac intensive care unit, and saw children who were worse off than River,” Derik noted. He said his son’s condition is known as hypo plastic left heart syndrome/variant. Eventually, when all the surgeries are done, River will function on half the heart that others have. It seems this little baby might have a “bigger” heart in other ways. The doctors told the family their little survivor was “beyond a miracle”. Derik said he knows it’s the work of God, answering the many prayers that have been sent up on his son’s behalf.

The Huttons were open with what was happening to their little family, and created a Facebook group named Baby Hutton- The Heart Warrior. Little did they know, that he would truly become a heart warrior surrounded by a mighty army of prayer warriors.

The entire community circled this family with love, prayers, and encouragement. They sent prayers on the Facebook page, they prayed in silence, they prayed in groups, they brought the needs of this family before their churches and covered them with prayer.

Then they put feet to their prayers and started not only praying, but having fundrasiers of every type and imagination. “It has just been amazing,” noted Derik. He and Casey are both educators, Derik teaching physical education at Southwestern and also teaching at Hanover College. Casey is an elementary teacher in special education at South Ripley.

Schools, churches, businesses, individuals, family and friends began to organize benefits for them. People they didn’t even know were getting on board and helping. Casey has taken a year off of work to take care of River, and Derik has just recently returned to work. It’s been a battle, a struggle, but one made so much lighter due to the efforts of small groups of people, who did big things for the family.

“We have received cards, prayer, money, food, and met hundreds of people through this journey,” Derik noted. He said “We could never repay back in a lifetime what has been done for us.” Derik said their places of employment have been “truly amazing” even having a great benefit for them where more than 500 people participated.

At first the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, close to Children’s Hospital where their little guy was fighting for his life. They took turns staying in the hospital with him and the other would be with their oldest son. Nothing much mattered at home. Their whole world was right there.
They kept connected to friends, family and anyone who wanted to be a part of this journey via Facebook. One entry from June 4 was “I can’t truly imagine what you are going through but always know that God is there to always give you strength.” There were hundreds more telling the family they were not alone.

A post on August 31 noted, “We are home!!” Baby River had been through the valley and there were times Derik described the journey as “dark” but he was home in Versailles with his mom, dad and brother.

While he’s not out of the woods by a long shot, River is quite the little character! He laughs and wiggles like any other baby his age. He just came through another surgery last Friday, November 16. No time for prayer warriors to quit now. His dad said he is hoping River only has to be in the hospital a short time, not months like before. Maybe a week or two this time. Maybe even less. Mom, Casey, reported that the surgery went great, and they have already been upgraded to a room on the regular floor not ICU.

From being told that babies who have this rare defect only have a 50% chance at best to live, to having the second major surgery in a series, River has defied all odds. And after all, his brother, Hawk, who turned three on Nov. 11 is there to look after him. He received a medical kit for his birthday and his dad reports that he checks his sweet baby brother regularly!

Baby River has a team of five pediatric cardiologists plus heart doctors and a host of nurses at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“We are so beyond thankful, grateful, and blessed,” said Casey. Their hearts are full of thankfulness this Thanksgiving. They have walked the journey of the ups and downs and know that whatever comes their way, they have a BIG family of community who will continue to keep praying.

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