Mighty Max takes on the world

Mighty Max takes on the world

When Joya Bardezbanian went into labor with her second child, Maximos, on December 9, 2014, she and her husband, Bryce, could have never been prepared for what would transpire next.

Once transferred to the nursery, their presumably healthy baby boy became hypoxic, which means he had low oxygen supply in the tissues.

Max, just a few hours old, was then immediately transferred to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There, he was stabilized, and Joya and Bryce were informed that their newborn son likely had transposition of his great vessels in his heart, meaning the two large arteries that carry blood away from the heart were connected to the heart abnormally.

Because there was no diagnosis while in-utero, the Bardezbanians were shocked to find Max was born with this condition. The neonatologist at the hospital told Bryce that if his diagnosis were confirmed, Max would likely be transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital for further care.

However, Bryce, a general surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center, had another option in mind. He knew he could trust his newborn son’s life in the hands of Advocate Children’s Hospital chief of pediatric cardiovascular surgery, Dr. Michel Ilbawi. After speaking to his senior partner, Dr. Mesleh, Bryce was immediately contacted by Dr. Ilbawi himself, who offered whatever was necessary to facilitate Max’s transfer to the hospital’s Oak Lawn campus. Most importantly, he offered Joya and Bryce the peace of mind that Max would be well cared for.

Max was immediately transferred to Advocate Children’s Hospital, where he would subsequently undergo a bedside procedure and, days later, open-heart surgery. After a five-day post-operative stay in the pediatric surgical heart unit, Max was discharged home – just in time for Christmas.

Max is now three years old. Aside from his yearly echocardiograms and the possibility of a valve replacement in the remote future, he is exceeding expectations health-wise. He likes to spend his time with his big brother, Ayden (age 5), eating and playing games.

Every year on Max’s “heart-versary”, he visits Advocate Children’s Hospital PSHU – the pediatric surgical heart unit – where he hands out toys to the kids and families who spend the holiday season inside its loving and caring hospital walls.

February is American Heart Month. The 2018 beneficiary of First Look for Charity is the Advocate Heart Institute, which includes the Advocate Children’s Heart Institute. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here. To make a gift, visit the Advocate Charitable Foundation website.

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About the Author

Kelsey Sopchyk
Kelsey Sopchyk

Kelsey Sopchyk, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health. She earned her BA in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa. In her spare time, you can find Kelsey tending to her plant children, trying new sushi restaurants in Chicago and cheering on the Cubs.