Our Story

Hello all, my name is Abigail Robinson, sister of Marissa Hansen. As many of you know, Marissa and Dillon’s son, Josiah, was born in August 2022. Josiah was diagnosed prenatally with a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome along with severely small coronary arteries. Marissa and their other kids, Anaiah(4) and Rowan(2) relocated to Aurora, CO, from their home in Laramie, WY, in July due to Marissa’s history of preeclampsia and delivering prematurely. (Oldest son, Gabe, left for school the same day.) The cardiac team did not want to risk Josiah being born outside of Denver Children’s Hospital because of the lifesaving intention needed as soon as he was born. Dillon was able to follow them to Denver shortly after he had found work in the Denver area.

The day Josiah was born, everything went much better than expected. A few hours after the C-section (and some breathing intervention), Marissa and Dillon were able to hold Josiah for a short time. He was surprising all of the doctors with how well he was doing outside of utero. There was talk about when he would receive the first of the three major open-heart surgeries needed for HLHS.

That night at 3am, Dillon woke to an alarm going over the hospital PSA system. Josiah was coding. He had gone into cardiac arrest.

The doctors are still unsure why this happened when he had done so incredibly well the hours before. They were able to revive him and he was placed on heart and lung bypass (ECMO). The next few days were a blur with the seemingly endless blood work, scans, tests, and exams. After several days on ECMO, they were able to take him off ECMO and the ventilator. They performed a Balloon Atrial Septostomy to help his heart function to get to a place where he could receive his Norwood procedure. During that, they found even more complicated anatomy, and he was also diagnosed with dextrocardia (his heart is on the right side of his chest instead of left) and DORV. More tests and more waiting, the doctors finally felt like he was in a good place to receive his first open-heart procedure. He was not strong enough for a full Norwood, so they opted to do a hybrid procedure. They sent our boy off in the hands of the incredible surgeons. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned. His heart was too unstable to complete the surgery.

The next and final option was a heart transplant. After fighting with insurance and social security, they were finally able to get Josiah listed on Sept. 21st as status 1a (this is the highest priority). Since then, Josiah has been doing incredibly well. He has fought a few times with gut problems but nothing major. He is very stoic, but mommy can usually get some smiles out of him. As for the rest of the family, Josiah’s oldest brother, Gabe(17), just graduated the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge and will be starting college to become a mechanic. Anaiah(4), was just accepted into Anchor Center School for the Blind and she is so excited to be back in school. Rowan(2) just had his birthday and rolls with the flow so well.

Josiah has overcome so much in his short life, but he will have to endure many more challenges as hospital stays, exams, tests, medications, and surgeries are all on the horizon. Unfortunately, he will need to remain in the hospital until after he is finished with the transplant process. Even after the transplant is performed, he will have to stay close to the hospital for a period of time to monitor his recovery and ensure that his body does not reject the new heart. After he goes home, he will need to return for multiple weekly exams for the first year or so, but will be necessary for the rest of his life.

When they got Josiah’s diagnosis, Marissa left her job to move to Denver. They were incredibly blessed to be able to move into a place called “Brent’s Place”. It is like the Ronald McDonald House but for long term housing and is a few blocks from the hospital. They are currently in the process of selling their home and will be in Colorado permanently soon. They won’t seriously look into housing until after Josiah’s transplant so they can stay close to him. Switching from two incomes to one has been incredibly challenging.

Leaving Laramie is one of their biggest heartaches through this whole process. Marissa and Dillon were foster parents for several years (this is how their oldest son became a part of their family). Marissa worked at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in the emergency room and the OR for several years. Dillon was a mechanic there after graduating from WyoTech. They will greatly miss the community and roots they have built for themselves in the last decade.

Many individuals have come forward asking for ways that they can help- please consider donating as a way to do just that. 100% of the donations will benefit COTA in honor of Josiah to assist with transplant-related expenses. Any amount truly makes a difference and is greatly appreciated! Josiah’s COTA page has been set up to help the Hansens keep their focus where it needs to be, on their family. The financial burden between missing work and paying the associated expense through this process can be overwhelming for a family dealing with this unexpected crisis. The hope is that your contributions to COTA in honor of Josiah can alleviate some of the extra stress on this family and allow them to focus on taking care of their family. If you are unable to contribute financially, continued thoughts and prayers are also equally valued and needed!

Thank you to every single person who has provided any manner of support during this difficult time. All of the love and support has made the toughest challenges a little less difficult. From the bottom of our hearts, we love you and we are forever grateful!

With all of our love and gratitude,
The Hansen (and Robinson) Family

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
Psalms 28:7

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support. COTA is the nation’s only fundraising organization solely dedicated to raising life-saving dollars in honor of transplant-needy children and young adults. 100% of each contribution made to COTA in honor of our patients helps meet transplant-related expenses. COTA’s services are free to our families, and gifts to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.