At Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, broken hearts are fixed. Children and families across Connecticut benefit from the Medical Center’s cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons expertise in interventions, surgery, intensive care, imaging and fetal diagnostics. For our daughter, Olivia, these services proved to be life-saving.
Part way through my pregnancy, we learned that our unborn daughter had a congenital heart defect, a condition known as pulmonary artesia. The defect was described to us as “having half a heart.” We were told that the defect couldn’t be fixed and our daughter would die shortly after birth. Devastated, my husband, Arnie, and I turned to our pediatrician for advice and that’s when we found Connecticut Children’s.
We were without hope. But Dr. Felice Heller, of Connecticut Children’s, called us and said, “Don’t worry. We’ve seen plenty of these. Your daughter will be fine.” It’s impossible to put into words how much that meant to us.
Less than forty-eight hours after birth, Olivia had her first operation. Eight days later she was home. At four months she had the next planned heart surgery. At six weeks there was another surgery to repair an intestinal problem commonly associated with congenital heart defects. It was difficult for Arnie, our daughter, Maddie, and me to see Olivia undergo so many surgeries in such a short period of time. But everyone at Connecticut Children’s kept us informed each step of the way. We knew there was a plan and we were thankful for the great support and communication from Connecticut Children’s.
At age four Olivia had her third and hopefully last heart surgery. We could tell it was time for this surgery. In the days and weeks leading up to it, Olivia’s energy level dropped to the point that she could barely climb a set of stairs. We could actually hear her approaching, her breathing was so labored. But then just nine days after surgery, she was home and literally running up and down the driveway. It was hard to believe it was the same little girl who was struggling to do simple things less than two weeks before.
Now 7 years old, Olivia has taken up dance. This year she tackled Hip Hop and next year she has her heart set on ballet. She’s doing so well in school, too. When people find out about her medical history, they are completely surprised. This is exactly what we hoped and dreamed for. Olivia is not cured, and she will need some level of ongoing cardiac care, but she is bright eyed and spirited as ever.
Plans are underway for a new Cardiovascular Care Center at Connecticut Children’s. It will support and strengthen the incredible efforts of the cardiac team who work together to offer the most advanced cardiac care for infants, children and adolescents with congenital and acquired heart defects.
As a not for profit organization, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center relies on gifts from people like you and me to advance the clinical programs and services that are vital to the families of our region. Please consider a gift to the Annual Fund. Your donation will help ensure our children receive the care they deserve
A very grateful mom