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Montana family searching for answers for ailing infant son

Fighting for Lyam: Montana family searching for answers ailing infant son
Posted at 8:07 AM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 10:07:09-04

BILLINGS — Lyam translates to "strong-willed warrior", and for this little boy, that couldn't be more true.

Lyam McDonald was born with a serious heart defect and underwent his first open-heart surgery at five days old.

He was discharged and got to know his family, and bonded with his big sister, 3-year-old Kymber.

"We were a family of four for a few months. it was pretty neat," said Ty McDonald, father of Kymber and Lyam.

Formerly of Geyser, Montana, the McDonald family relocated to Colorado to meet Lyam's needs.

Following his second stage of heart surgery in March, Lyam was put on (ECHMO) life support.

"He's still neurologically there, still smiles at you, still squeezes your hand. He's all there. He just needs help," McDonald said.

In the long run, he will need a heart transplant, and then down the road, a kidney transplant.

"Three open-heart surgeries, two other surgeries, cath lab procedures that all require anesthesia and to still be able to smile at his mom and dad is pretty darn cool," McDonald said.

They say that he has exceeded everyone's expectations continuously, from being conceived through IFV, to overcoming sepsis four times and beating every odd.

"His eyes just tell a story, and he looks at you and it just like hits your soul," Lyam's mother, Jyll McDonald, said.

The doctors have said there's no more that can be done for him, but his parents say they will not give up hope.

"Not every institution does specialize in pediatrics. I mean, you're talking about a heart that when he was born, it was the size of a walnut. Sometimes a different perspective helps," Ty McDonald said.

Ty McDonald made a post on Facebook, reaching out for a miracle, and it was shared more than16,000 times.

"There's been a lot suggestions of heart hospitals. We need a pediatric cardiologist, a pediatric thoracic surgeon that specializes in this," Ty McDonald said.

The family is hoping that the power of social media will help them find someone who will see Lyam not as a statistic, but as a person.

Perhaps a doctor who may have experiences with extraordinary cases.

"Really, our need is to get our information out, to cardiology expertise folks who are in those fields all across the country," McDonald said.

Lyam will need a heart transplant, and down the road, a kidney transplant. But before any of that can happen, they have to get on the transplant list.

"This whole thing would be one thing if he wasn't there neurologically if he didn't respond to us every day. But he does every day, and he smiles at us every day," Ty McDonald said. "In my eyes, you have one choice, and that choice is to continue to grind. There's only one way to eat an elephant, and that's one bite at a time."

The McDonald family says that the hospital did grant an exception so that Lyam has gotten to spend some time with his big sister, whom his parents say he's aware of as soon as she enters.

"I think every parent has a gut feeling on how their kid is doing or not, especially mama. And mama know's he's still fighting. He's fighting for us, and he's fighting for his sister. He's the toughest cowboy I know," Ty McDonald said.

"A pediatric surgeon. A heart transplant team. A kidney transplant team, someone that has the big guns that can offer him a life because he's so full of life. And giving up on him is just not a choice. It's not an option. We won't do it," Jyll McDonald said.

When asked if she had any idea that she could love someone so much, his mother said, "I didn't until I had Kymber. You kind of get that, 'Oh my God, I didn't know, and then you have him and just like the thought of losing him just tears you apart.'"

"You'd do anything, I would give him my heart if it would fit in his chest. If they will give him a heart I will give him a kidney. I'm the best match for him, and I will give him one if they will give him a heart," Jyll McDonald said.

For now, the McDonalds are cherishing each moment just spent together.

They are also distributing decals that say "Half a Heart, Full of Fight", that people can purchase to spread the word of his battle.

Baby Mac's Heart Fight Facebook page is a place to find the latest details or submit suggestions.