Story, Patient, Research and Innovation

Why I Ride for Colton

By Britney Gibson

July 5, 2018

A mom and dad become superheroes, even with broken hearts. Britney and Sam ride in the Courage Classic with the Cardiac Climbers in honor of their son, Colton ("Moose"), who passed away due to congenital heart defects at 3 months old.

My name is Britney Gibson and this year my husband and I are riding for our son Colton. Colton (Moose) was born Dec. 12, 2015 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette. As soon as he was born, everyone knew something was terribly wrong. Colton was blue and barely breathing. They immediately rushed him to the NICU and then took him by Flight for Life  to Children’s Hospital Colorado. Colton was diagnosed with Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and Coarctation of the Aorta.

Colton had his first open heart surgery at only four days old. The surgery went well and he began to heal. A week later, Colton’s oxygen saturation began to slowly drop. At 16 days old Colton went in for a catheterization lab to see what was happening. While in the Cath Lab, Colton clotted off the shunt in his heart that was placed during his first surgery. Colton went into cardiac arrest requiring Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which he came off of 24 hours later. We then received a new diagnosis; Pulmonary Vein Stenosis (PVS).

We were told that Colton’s PVS was severe and progressing very quickly. On Feb. 4, 2016 Colton went into respiratory arrest and was taken in for his second open heart surgery. Many people were not expecting Colton to overcome another surgery, but he did. He began to thrive. He was gaining weight and smiling at every person who came into the room. A couple weeks later we were sent home. We couldn’t believe that we were finally home. Later that night the pulse ox monitor was alarming, but the hospital told us to come in the next morning. Everything seemed to be okay. When we brought Colton in the next day, he was re-admitted. He was not able to hold his oxygen saturations and they wanted to keep an eye on him. That week we just laid low, cuddling and playing as much as we could.

On March 14, 2016, Colton woke up uncontrollably crying. When the team came to look at him, they knew something was wrong. They called for an echocardiogram and saw that his shunt was beginning to form a clot. We knew things were about to take a horrible turn. Code blue was called and many people rushed to our room. This time, despite all efforts made, we could not save him. At 9:05 a.m., at only 3 months old, Colton lost his battle to CHD.

Right before Colton went into surgery, Colton’s father, Sam, gave him a kiss and said, “I love you, Moose.” Everyone stopped and asked why he called him Moose. There was no reason, it just fit him perfectly. From then on, more people knew him as Moose than Colton. He was a brave, strong and resilient little boy who know nothing but love. He was known for his amazing smile and silly personality. Colton loved to play and cuddle but hated when his toes were touched. He had a WubbaNub pacifier that just happened to be a moose. It became his best friend. In three months, Colton touched more lives than most people could in a lifetime.

Although his ending was tragic, he has inspired my husband and I to do anything and everything we can to honor his life. We have started a nonprofit called Colton’s Heart and we deliver monthly comfort baskets to the CICU and CPCU. I have also started working at Children’s Hospital Colorado in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and have started nursing school. Sam has enrolled in school for respiratory therapy and is waiting for class to begin in a few short months.

Sam and I both continue to work at Children’s Hospital Colorado and are in nursing school. Since last year’s ride, Sam has become a Clinical Assistant in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and I recently have transferred down to the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit to work with the team who took such amazing care of our son.