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Teagan's incredible heart: One Utah family's fight for their little superhero

Published: Friday, June 20 2014 12:15 p.m. MDT

Teagan Pettit, 6, was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and is currently on the list to receive a heart transplant.

Cortney Wortley, Harper Grey Photography

Although every superhero is impressive to 6-year-old Teagan Dash Pettit, if asked which one he likes the best, his answer would be Iron Man because, as Teagan says, "Iron Man has a heart like me."

Teagan was born on March 10, 2008, to Ryan and Brytten Pettit. At 9 pounds 4 ounces, Teagan appeared healthy and the Pettits were happy to bring home the newest addition to their family. But only four days into Teagan's life, a pediatrician found the color of his skin concerning. The Pettits were immediately sent in an ambulance to Primary Children's Hospital.

There they were notified that Teagan was born with half of a heart — a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and news that would affect their little boy for the rest of his life.

"At first we were like, 'Um, I think you have the wrong kid, the wrong diagnosis.' We thought it would be something more simple and that these kind of things wouldn’t happen to us," Brytten said.

"And then once we accepted it, we just kind of had to go through the steps to do what it would take to keep him here on earth with us."

That day the Pettits were given three options for Teagan.

"They just said you can either stay here at Primary Children’s and he would need the first of three open heart surgeries, or you can leave the state and go try to get a heart transplant, but those aren’t very easy to do. And the third option was to just go ahead and take him home, and he would pass away in a couple of days," Brytten said.

After consulting with the doctors, who believed Teagan was healthy enough to have surgery, the Pettits decided to pursue the open heart surgery, which would prolong Teagan's life and the time before he would need a heart transplant.

On day seven of Teagan's life, he had his first open heart surgery, called the Norwood. Previously, when deciding Teagan's full name, Ryan and Brytten allowed their oldest child, Mason, who was 3 at the time, to choose Teagan's middle name. As a toddler and a fan of Disney's "The Incredibles," Mason chose Dash.

"In the hospital that just took off," Brytten said. "Everyone just called him the Dash man and our little Incredible with an incredible heart."

Within those first few days of Teagan's life, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ryan and Brytten chose to give Teagan his baby blessing in the hospital.

"On Sunday, March 15, 2008, we decided to have a special day of fasting and prayer and to give Teagan his name and blessing in the ICU," Ryan wrote on the family's blog.

"We attended a short sacrament meeting at Primary Children's Hospital. The songs were never sweeter to my ears. As I pondered our Savior's love for us and his atoning sacrifice, a comforting thought came to my heart: Our Savior suffered all to take upon himself not only our sins but our infirmities, pains and sorrow. As I grasped this thought during the sacrament, I cried. But not for my son, for my Savior."

Ryan then gave Teagan a blessing.

"We’ve relied on the words of that blessing many, many times," Brytten said. "We’re grateful for all the blessings that Teagan’s had that reassure us that this is just a small part of the plan for Teagan."

After six weeks of recovery, Teagan was able to go home, but by the time he was 4 months old, it was time for another surgery. In July of 2008, Teagan had his second open heart surgery, called the Glenn, and was given a permanent gastric feeding tube.

After eight weeks of recovery, Teagan left the hospital.

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