Hastings boy has four open heart surgeries before 12

By  | 

HASTINGS, Neb (KSNB) - Autumn Ludeke was only 19-years-old when she gave birth to a baby boy. But he was taken away minutes after birth and sent to Children's Hospital in Omaha. Come to find out, her son was barley clinging onto life.

Caden Hester's scars from surgery

And watching her son being taken away is something she'll never forget.

"That moment I told myself, if anything else, I can be proud of myself because I created this baby. Like the most beautiful little boy, laying there, hooked up to all these machines and these tubes, I created that," said Autumn Ludeke, the mother.

Since then, her son, 12-year-old Caden Hester, has gone through four open heart surgeries. And has battled liver cancer. But he thinks his defect makes him special .

"Because I'm the only one who has had a heart surgery, just like the heart surgery I've been having, at my school," said Caden Hester, the heart defect survivor.

The love and support doesn't stop there. Caden's mom makes sure that all her kids feel supported and loved.

"I need to do whatever I can to ensure that their lives are as good as possible. That's my job as a mom, especially with Caden," said the mother.

And it doesn't go unnoticed. Caden calls his mom the real superwoman because she's always there to save the day.

"She's just amazing. Every single surgery I've been through, she's been there with me in the hospital, right next to me, through the whole entire thing for as long as she possibly can," said Hester.

The Children's Heart Foundation says each year, 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect. And two to three million people in the United States are living with a heart defect.