Carter Lee Rieck, 18-month-old son of John W. & Chelsea D. Lewis Rieck III of Woodsfield, Ohio, passed away Monday December 27, 2021 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus.
On June 27, 2020 a warrior was born. Carter Lee Rieck came into this world, and everything changed, who would of known such a adventure was about to begin. Chelsea immediately noticed something with this little boy, Carter had a lucky number.
Carter Lee Rieck, was the seventh child born to John and Chelsea Rieck, on the 7th day of the week, on the 27th day, at the 7th hour, weighing 7lbs. As the days went on, Carter continued to show that every milestone would come with the number 7.
The night Carter was born, Carter was immediately air lifted to Nationwide Children's Hospital. At 20 weeks, the anatomy scan showed John and Chelsea something was irregular with Carters heart. Carter was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect in infants. HPLS affects approximately 1,025 babies in the US each year. Carter was one of the rarest they had seen here at Children's, they’d never seen a heart quite like his.
At ten days old, John and Chelsea were told, for Carter to have any chance of life, Carter would need a heart transplant. Carter was immediately listed on the national organ transplant list, where he remained at NCH waiting on his special gift. On August 26th, 2020, John and Chelsea received the call, A donor had been accepted for Carter. Carter received his new heart, and within two weeks was going home to meet his siblings for the first time.
Through out the last year, Carter had many bumps in the road while he was recovering at home from his heart transplant.
In August of 2021, Carter was making multiple emergency trips to Nationwide Children's Hospital. After the fifth visit, Carter was finally admitted. For weeks the teams ran ongoing tests, while Carter went through multiple surgeries, biopsies, CT scans, you name it Carter had it done. On September 8th, Carter was diagnosed with PJP, a lung infection the immune compromised and transplant recipients can contract. Carter was the first case of PJP here at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the 19th case in the nation in the last 15 years. On September 16th, Carter was placed on life support, a last attempt of saving what health Carter had left. As the weeks went on, Carter continued to decline in his health. In October, John and Chelsea were hit back to back with unimaginable news. Carter had had multiple seizures over the weeks, an infection his right leg causing Carter to have his foot amputated, kidney failure, and more.
On October 13th, Carter underwent a life changing surgery, one that had never been done, let alone on a transplant child in his condition. They were told Carter would never make it thought the surgery, and if he did, make him comfortable it would only be a matter of days. Once again, Carter proved them all wrong. This surgery changed Carters health, and gave his parents a chance over the upcoming weeks to spend as much time possible with Carter. Everything was unpredictable with Carters health, doctors were never able to really guide anyone on which way Carter would turn, he was the first case of PJP At NCH, with no history or information on this. The team let Carter be in control and tell them what he needed, he liked to write his own book.
Carter continued to have bumps in the road. But on November 17th, Carters health and lungs had finally improved enough, to where Carter was finally able to come off of life support, and the next chapter of his book began.
On December tenth, we thought Carters lungs were ready for extubation. Chelsea and the team crowded as they pulled the breathing ventilator tube from Carters mouth, he had been on the ventilator since September. A raspy “No” from Carter and all the cheer in the room was what you could hear. Sadly, after minutes, his lungs could not tolerate extubation, Carter coded. After two minutes of chest compressions and a shot of epinephrine, Carter was back, but this code was a huge set back for Carter and just the beginning of new issues for him. Over the weeks, Carter continued to prove them wrong, but Carter was tiring, he had been through so much. On December 22nd, Chelsea left after a normal visit with Carter, by that evening, the phone calls started from Children's.
After a long fight, Carter had developed a infection in his new PD dialysis port. Throughout the days, Carter quickly became septic. On Sunday, Carter went in for another surgery, where they removed the dialysis port. But sadly with the removal of the port, it caused the infection to spread and quickly. The infection had spread through Carters body, causing him to go into organ failure.
It was too late.
John, Chelsea, and Carters siblings entered the halls one last time of Nationwide Children's Hospital as a family of 7. They walked the bravest walk through the heart floor in honor of their warrior, Carter Lee Rieck.
On December 27th, 2021, Carter Lee Rieck earned his wings after one of the bravest fights seen fought. Carter never let his illness’ set him back. He was a gentle soul, and would always be caught with a smile that would calm you.
Carter leaves behind, his parents, John and Chelsea Rieck. One sister, Mackenzie and four brothers, Chase, Connor, Jackson, and Hunter. And a special sister in heaven, who watched over him this past year and a half, Aubree. Through out his 18 months, Carter never once stopped fighting. He showed true strength and resilience during his short time on this earth. If Carter had one place he loved to be, it was the river. Throughout his short life, Carter spent majority of it at home recovering from his heart transplant. At the river, Carter was his happiest, he loved to ride the boat, kayak, and take special golf cart rides with his favorite friends. Carter finally felt like a kid.
John and Chelsea would like to extend a very special thank you to the doctors and nurses of Nationwide Children's Hospital heart transplant team. For the time, love, and care put into our sweet Carter. A very special thank you to Carter’s donor family. Without you, Carter would not have gotten to live the life he did. Without you, we wouldn’t have had the last year and a half with our little warrior.
We are honored to have been chosen to be the parents of Carter. He will be forever missed and loved beyond measure.
One way a life can be measured is by the amount of lives we touch and the lasting impression we leave on those left behind. Although only here for a brief moment, Carter touched so many and left a lifelong impression on us all through the bravery and fight he demonstrated on a daily basis. Words can not describe the loss that will be felt by all those who loved him, but we will pull from his example and and bravely take on the days ahead with as much strength and courage. Heroes can come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Thank you for the happiest year of our lives.
Throughout Carter’s journey, the Rieck family has been blessed to have such kind people in their lives. John and Chelsea are forever thankful for the generous efforts and time from their family, friends, and the community. Those who have reached out and donated to Carter and the family are met with sincere gratitude. Most importantly, the support received allowed the Riecks to focus on spending time with and making memories with Carter that will be deeply cherished and carried on in their days ahead.
Friends received from 2 p.m. until time of funeral service at 6 p.m. Friday December 31, 2021 at the Bauer-Turner Funeral Home Woodsfield, Ohio with Pastor Stan West officiating. Interment at the convenience of the family.
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