Emilee was born on October 11, 2003, with what was considered a slight heart murmur. Within months, Dr. Paul Chlpka recognized Emilee’s heart murmur was intensifying and promptly referred us to Dr. Grace Smith a pediatric cardiologist. Dr. Smith informed us that Emilee’s heart murmur was caused by an atrial septal defect (ASD), or a hole between the two upper chambers of her heart. Over time, this would cause the right upper chamber (right atrium) to become overworked and enlarged, eventually damaging her heart.
At 21 months of age, Emilee had a follow-up echocardiogram to monitor her ASD. It was determined that it had almost doubled in size prompting the recommendation of Dr. Smith and her colleagues for Emilee to undergo surgery, before her heart was permanently damaged. On September 12, 2005, Emilee underwent open-heart surgery at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio. That day surgeons took a piece of the Emilee’s pericardium, a protective sac around the heart, to close up the hole in her heart. Within 24 hours she was out of the ICU. On day 3 with the IV still in her foot, Emilee was playing games and riding a Pooh bike through the halls. Her surgeons rounded the corner and responded, “I think we can let her go home now,” Emilee is now a healthy and active 9 year old. She enjoys gymnastics, swimming, soccer and dancing.
Donations to the American Heart Association are what allow for the development of procedures, techniques and early detection that are saving the lives of countless children today just like Emilee. Our daughter’s heart is now considered normal, but there are many more heart children who are counting on your donation to give them and their parents hope for a long and healthy future. Please open your heart so theirs can be made whole.