Nathan Hokenbrough, design engineer in LDG’s Lititz office, and his family recently served as the March of Dimes Ambassador Family at the annual Transportation, Construction & Real Estate Breakfast in Harrisburg. This is the Hokenbrough family’s story.
In October 2014, Nate Hokenbrough and his wife Beth were expecting twins. Already parents to two boys, ages two and four, the couple was both nervous and excited to double the size of their family. Nate, a highway engineer with Larson Design Group, and Beth, a pediatric nurse at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, joyfully welcomed their new additions at 35 weeks, with son Braydon weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and daughter Tegan weighing only 4 pounds, and born with aortic stenosis, a congenital heart defect.
Beth and Nate faced many challenges, splitting their time between bedside vigils for their twins in the NICU, and caring for their young sons at home. Tegan required specialized monitoring of her heart and both babies had the usual respiratory challenges that many premature babies face. March of Dimes funded the research on surfactant therapy and nitric oxide, two treatments in the NICU that reduce respiratory distress and improve the breathing of many premature newborns. After 12 days, Braydon was discharged from NICU, and Tegan was discharged after 14 days. It was a joyous day for this young family.
Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve, meaning that the flow of blood from the left ventricle through the aorta to the rest of the body is less efficient than in a normal heart. The result was that Tegan’s body did not get enough oxygen and as she grew, she experienced a continued decline in her heart function. On December 3rd at only 8 weeks of age, Tegan underwent her first open-heart surgery to repair the valve. She spent seven days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, under the great care of the wonderful staff at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
Since Tegan’s surgery almost two years ago, she has been steadily progressing and her repaired heart valve remains stable. She has an echocardiogram every three to four months. Her doctors estimate that Tegan will need a full valve replacement by the time she enters kindergarten.
Tegan is now a spunky 2-year-old. Initially, Tegan was developmentally three months behind her brother Braydon. She is small in stature and weight, but her physical and motor development is now on par with other toddlers as well as with Braydon.
Beth and Nate are grateful for the treatments available from March of Dimes funded research. And they are grateful to the physicians and nurses who provided such remarkable care for their growing twins. They gladly serve as our March of Dimes Ambassador Family to raise awareness of the impact of premature birth and accompanying birth defects.