Within the first few days of her life, Serenity, now 1 year old, was diagnosed with a partial atrioventricular septal defect, a hole between the chambers of the left and right sides of the heart, and severe leakage of her heart’s mitral valve.
Her mother, Heather, was told by the Children’s Hospital Foundation Heart Center team that Serenity would need surgery to repair the defect, and her long term prognosis would depend on how well her valve could be repaired to stop the leaking. The team recommended waiting before performing the surgery to allow Serenity to grow and get stronger, but when she stopped gaining weight around three months old they told Heather that it was time to move forward.
“Before they took Serenity to the OR, the last thing I said to the surgeon was, ‘Just fix my baby,’” Heather remembers. “The 8-hour surgery felt like it took so long, but they called me throughout the whole process to let me know when they had put Serenity to sleep, when they got her on the heart and lung bypass machine, when they had her chest open, and everything else. When I finally saw Serenity after surgery, it was sad to see her with her chest tubes, IV’s and monitoring equipment, but I was just so happy because she was alive and I knew things were going to get better.”
Serenity’s surgery went smoothly, and the valve repair was perfect with virtually no leakage. Heather appreciated that all of the doctors and nurses were dedicated to taking care of her daughter and reaching milestones like getting Serenity’s chest tubes out so Heather could hold her and, just three days later, getting them back home.
“The whole experience was as great as it could have been,” Heather says. “Every single person was very adamant about making sure Serenity was okay. They really made me feel like family.”
Thanks to her life-saving heart surgery, Serenity was able to move past the complications she was born with and focus on more important things during her first year of life, like taking her first steps and saying her first words.