The Kramer Family

After having two healthy children, Laura and Jim Kramer were excited for her third and final child.

In December of 2002, Nicholas (Nick) Kramer was born with transposition of the great arteries, which is a serious but rare heart defect present at birth, in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed. Nick was life-flighted to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA.

“After he arrived, his doctor’s decided he would need immediate surgery,” Laura (mom) said.

At 3 days old, Nick underwent an arterial switch operation, an open heart surgery done to correct the dextro-transposition of the great arteries.

As Nick recovered from surgery, his family checked in at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey.

“It was a very scary time for our family as we had two little ones at home in Minersville, PA (Sam, 7 years old and Kate, 3 years old) and it was during the holidays,” Laura said. “Being able to stay close by at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey was our saving grace.”

Unfortunately, shortly after Nick’s surgery, he went into cardiac arrest. Nick’s mom Laura remembers, “Our whole world turned upside down as they tried to resuscitate him.”

Thankfully, doctors were able to resuscitate Nick and he was placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to give his heart a rest. The ECMO machine pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing time for the heart and lungs to rest and heal.

Following two longs months of ups and downs with Nick’s recovery, he was ready to go home with his family. After 39 nights of staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey to be close by Nick, the Kramer family headed home. “The kind volunteers and staff at the Ronald McDonald House provided us with comfort, a place to rest and fuel for our bodies,” Laura said. “It was a time that we will never forget.”

Nick has had to fight through some of the residual effects from his surgery including strokes, speech delays, seizures, hydrocephalus, but through it all, he has persevered.

The Kramers are very proud of the young man, Nick has become. He is now 17 years old and enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Nick and his family have given back to RMHC of Central PA by volunteering through various programs and hosting third party fundraisers to support the organization.

“We are so thankful for all of the resources provided by RMHC of Central PA,” Laura said. “Because of all of the staff and volunteers, we were able to survive a very hard situation and keep our family together when we needed it most.”

All services offered by RMHC of Central PA are provided free of charge because of our generous community. Help us continue to keep families like the Kramers together by donating at www.rmhc-centralpa.org/donate.

Medical terminology provided by Penn State Health at www.pennstatehealth.org.