5-month-old undergoing 2nd round of heart surgery

Birth was typical for child of Sulphur Springs residents, but health problems arose quickly

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 16, 2008 - Bryson Melton has already suffered more medical problems than most people ever will in their lifetimes -- and on Monday, the 5-month-old boy was slated to undergo open heart surgery for the second time.

Bryson is the son of Macie Murray and Mikey Melton, both of Sulphur Springs, and grandson of Angie and Mike Booth of Sulphur Springs and Randy and Dana Melton of Cumby. Murray is a 2008 graduate of Sulphur Springs High School and is employed in the anesthesia department at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

Bryson's birth was typical, and he was initially given a clean bill of health. However, it soon was discovered that he didn't have a soft spot on his head, according to Macie and Bryson's cousin, Cassy Bolton, and multiple health problems began to emerge. He has since been diagnosed with partial anomolous pulmonary venus return, tetralogy of Fallot, craniosynostosis and several different spinal conditions.

Craniosynostosis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is essentially a defect in which one or more of the fibrous joints between the bones of an infant's skull close prematurely, before the infant's brain is fully formed. As a result, the infant's brain can't grow in its natural shape. Treating craniosynostosis usually requires surgery to separate the fused bones. If there's no underlying brain abnormality, the surgery allows the brain adequate space to grow and develop.

Bryson's family was also told that his oxygen levels "were not good," and he was thought to have a heart murmur. Testing for the murmur revealed a hole in his heart bigger than a quarter -- enormous for an infant.

He also had problems with his bones, including his ribs and vertebrae.

He underwent heart surgery two months ago and remained in the hospital until recently. But two weeks ago, Bryson had an "episode" in which he quit breathing. He was rushed to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Medical City hospital in Dallas.

In addition to the breathing problems, doctors found Bryson has problems with the arteries and veins going to the heart, and that blood was going into his lungs, according to Bolton.

Monday Medical City doctors administered a catheter test on Bryson's heart, sending a 'scope from his legs up to his heart. Mid-test, the infant's heart rate dropped sustantially, and and he technically "passed away," but was brought back with CPR. He's currently on life support due to the his body's delicate condition.

Family members were given hope, however -- his heart appears to be trying to pump on its own, and he opened his eyes Sept. 8, and two days later "squeezed mom's hand," family members said.

Meanwhile, Bryson's parents and other family waited at the pediatric ICU at Medical City, and staying at a hotel nearby other times (the hospital's ICU has no rooms for families to stay in). HCMH officials have been "very understanding" of Murray's prolonged absence from her post, and indicated they'll be flexible with her schedule and that she'll still have a job waiting when she returns home, according to Bolton.

The results of the first half of the cath test came back Thursday afternoon, showing a problem with one of his lungs -- "a tangled mass." Doctors were unable to discern whether the mass is directly inside or outside of Bryson's lung.

"We're just waiting right now. He's still on life support but they're going to be weaning him off life support this week," Bolton said.

Bryson was slated for a second heart surgery Monday (results were not known at press time). While in surgery, doctors were to try to determine whether the mass was outside or inside the lung. If it was outside the lung, they anticipated being able to fix the problem. If the mass is inside Bryson's lung, however, he will need a lung transplant. If a transplant is needed, it'll have to be done in Houston or St. Louis, Mo.

Bryson's doctors have diagnosed the infant as having tetralogy of Fallot and partial anomalous pulmonary venous return.

Tetralogy of Fallot involves defects within heart structures which result in oxygen-poor blood flowing out of the heart and into the body, according to www.mayo.clinic.com. The condition occurs in about five out of every 10,000 babies. With early diagnosis and treatment, the majority of children with tetralogy of Fallot live into adulthood.

Partial anomalous pulmonary venous return is a rare defect in which one or more of the pulmonary veins carries blood from the lung to the right side of the heart, rather than to the left atrium as in the normal heart, according to pted.org, the heart center at Johns Hopkins University.

These conditions are costly for his family, who have insurance, but it does not cover all the costs associated with Bryson's care. In fact, because of the nature of his ailments, some things, such as certain medications which previously had been covered under the policy no longer are.

Consequently, Bryson and his mother are in desperate need of financial help. A fund has been set up at Bank of America in Greenville, and donations may be made at the Greenville bank or any Bank of American Branch location to the "Bryson Melton Medical Fund."

Collection jars are also being placed at a number of area businesses, with Juan Pablo's currently the on Sulphur Springs business which has agreed to have a jar to collect donations. In Greenville, where Bryson's cousin Bolton lives, jars have been placed at the clothing store Garb, Studio A and Crumpton's TV. Family and friends of the family have contacted a number of other local businesses and establishment to get more collection jars out, but have yet to hear back from quite a few of them.

Friends of the family are planning a lunch fundraiser for Friday, Sept. 26, but are still working out the details. More information will be forthcoming.

"If a company or business will allow us to put out a jar, we'd appreciate it. They can just contact me and we'll get it over to them," said Bolton when asked about the family's needs. "If anybody would like to make a further donation, has ideas for or would like to help with a fundraiser, they can contact me as well. Anything at this time will help. Just keep Bryson and the family in your prayers. You can never have enough of those."

To make donations or for more information on how to help Bryson Melton and his family, contact Cassy Bolton at 903-461-5532.

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