Offering hope and assist to “the littlest coronary heart sufferers of all” and their households is what Mended Little Hearts is all about. And who higher to create consciousness and produce a powerful voice for congenital coronary heart defects than nurse, Ka Yang, and her daughter, Annabelle Lee. They know first-hand how necessary that form of assist may be.

Annabelle and a child life staff member with gift bags in front of them
Annabelle Lee and her mother take pleasure in serving to youngsters handled at UC Davis Kids’s Hospital, together with delivering Mended Little Hearts Bravery Baggage.

When Yang gave delivery to her daughter in November of 2009, the first-time mother was excited to take her wholesome new child residence. However by the point of Annabelle’s well-child go to at 2 months outdated, Yang was nervous. Her daughter appeared to be respiration closely.

“I used to be a brand-new mother, however mom’s instinct advised me Annabelle was not appearing usually. Her physician on the UC Davis clinic agreed to run some checks,” Yang mentioned. “I’m so glad she listened to me.”

A chest x-ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG) revealed that the toddler was in congestive coronary heart failure. She was whisked from the physician’s workplace to UC Davis Kids’s Hospital by ambulance.

“She was admitted instantly. My world grew to become a blur,” Yang mentioned. “I used to be in survival mode and so was my daughter.”

Annabelle with mom

She was admitted instantly. My world grew to become a blur. I used to be in survival mode and so was my daughter.”Ka Yang, Annabelle’s mother

Compassion and experience assist lady with the damaged coronary heart

Annabelle underwent open coronary heart surgical procedure at UC Davis Kids’s Hospital, residence of the Pediatric Coronary heart Heart and the Kids’s Surgical procedure Heart. Her uncommon defect, known as aortopulmonary window, is a gap between the blood vessel that feeds the center (the aorta) and the blood vessel going to the lungs (pulmonary artery). Due to this gap, blood from the aorta rushes into the pulmonary artery, and an excessive amount of blood flows by the lungs. Aortopulmonary window accounts for lower than 1% of all congenital coronary heart defects.

Annabelle in the hospital at two months old
Pediatric affected person, Annabelle, has her first coronary heart surgical procedure at UC Davis Kids’s Hospital.

Annabelle additionally had pulmonary stenosis, the place the pulmonary valve – which permits blood stream from the precise ventricle to the lung  – narrows and causes the precise ventricle to pump tougher to get blood previous the blockage. These mixed defects contributed to secondary pulmonary hypertension, which occurs when the strain within the blood vessels main from the center to the lungs is just too excessive.

In keeping with UC Davis Kids’s Hospital pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, Gary Raff, kids with aortopulmonary window can have a delayed prognosis.

“This ends in an excessive amount of blood getting into the lungs at excessive strain and may end up in early pulmonary vascular illness that may make surgical care difficult,” Raff mentioned. “We work carefully with our multidisciplinary pediatric pulmonary hypertension service to handle kids like Annabelle.”

When the mother or father turns into the affected person

To complicate issues, whereas Annabelle was recovering within the Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU), Yang herself suffered a medical emergency. She was taken to the Emergency Division at UC Davis Medical Heart.

“We had been each sufferers on the similar time and it was so exhausting. I simply wished to be with my child,” Yang mentioned. “I’d take my IV pole with me to see her. The nurses had been so caring and compassionate. I used to be actually impressed and knew we needed to give again, however couldn’t have anticipated how dramatically our lives would change.”

One other surgical procedure, one other alternative for hearts to develop stronger

baby Annabelle sitting in a seat after surgery
Annabelle is hospitalized once more at 8 months to restore her congenital coronary heart defect (CHD).

When mom and daughter had been each launched, Yang thought she and Annabelle had been within the clear. She started to consider methods to make a distinction in the neighborhood. However months later, Annabelle was having issue respiration as soon as once more.

“She was sweating, and I might inform her coronary heart was working extra time,” Yang mentioned. “I took her again in they usually ran extra checks. They decided that Annabelle wanted one other surgical procedure.”

Annabelle’s second prognosis was supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS), a coronary heart defect that entails a narrowing of the massive blood vessel that carries blood from the center to the remainder of the physique. The incidence of SVAS is estimated at roughly 1 in 25,000 births.

white male doctor in a white lab coat standing outside

You will need to comply with sufferers with congenital coronary heart defects as they develop to determine issues that develop, comparable to in Annabelle’s case.” Gary Raff, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon

At 8 months outdated, the little lady with the large coronary heart had a second coronary heart surgical procedure to restore the diseased space with a patch comprised of pig tissue.

“Surgical procedure after restore of the aortopulmonary window will not be frequent. However in some sufferers, scar tissue develops. This may end up in poor progress of the aorta and proper pulmonary artery,” Raff mentioned. “That’s what occurred with Annabelle. You will need to comply with sufferers with congenital coronary heart defects as they develop to determine issues that develop, comparable to in Annabelle’s case.”

Hearts are mended in additional methods than one

Though her restoration was difficult, the household relied on the caring employees for consolation and related with others whose kids had encountered related cardiac points. Yang mentioned that the expertise made a huge effect on her.

“I used to be so consumed with my daughter presumably dying,” Yang mentioned. “What we went by was actually exhausting, so it was necessary to have a assist system.”

Annabelle and her mom with members of the care team
UC Davis Kids’s Hospital and UC Davis Well being employees impressed Ka Yang to develop into a nurse.

Yang mentioned that between the opposite coronary heart households she met by Mended Little Hearts and the staff at UC Davis Kids’s Hospital, she felt very effectively taken care of.

Now greater than a decade later, each Annabelle and her mother proceed that custom of serving to by offering assist to different affected person households by the group that helped them when Annabelle was an toddler. Yang had discovered her place. However working with Mended Little Hearts was just the start. Yang took her new mission a step additional.

“What occurred to Annabelle made me reassess my life. I made a decision to return to high school to develop into a nurse,” Yang mentioned. “It’s loopy how issues occurred, however 12 years later, right here we’re.”

Annabelle showing her scar (left) seated wearing a blue shirt with 'hearts of gold' (center) wearing a brown shirt and black jeans jumping up outside on a lawn
Annabelle – the lady with the large coronary heart – by the years.
Annabelle's mom looking at her while standing between large tree branches

We love UC Davis and being concerned in the neighborhood. I really feel like my life has come full circle and so has Annabelle’s.” Ka Yang

This UC Davis undergrad alumna now has a second diploma from Sonoma State and works at UC Davis Well being. Yang loves being a part of the family-centered care she skilled as a affected person herself and as a affected person mother.

“We love UC Davis and being concerned in the neighborhood,” Yang mentioned. “I really feel like my life has come full circle and so has Annabelle’s. She’s in center faculty and has two youthful brothers. Now we have come a great distance.”

When requested in regards to the impression Annabelle, now 13 years outdated, has had on her life, Yang wiped away tears as she spoke of her favourite (and solely) daughter whose coronary heart is larger than anybody she is aware of.

Annabelle's mom (left) and Annabelle (right) standing outside
Ka and Annabelle work collectively to vary youngsters’ well being and unfold consciousness about CHD.

“She conjures up me day by day. Annabelle is so robust, so caring,” Yang mentioned. “I share her story with my sufferers and that helps them have hope. I’m so grateful to assist others in a significant approach. Nobody ought to should undergo one thing like this alone.”

UC Davis Kids’s Hospital is the Sacramento area’s solely nationally ranked, complete hospital offering look after infants, kids, adolescents and younger adults with major, subspecialty and significant care. It contains the Central Valley’s solely pediatric emergency division and degree I pediatric trauma middle, which presents the best degree of look after its critically sick sufferers, in addition to a degree I kids’s surgical procedure middle. The 129-bed kids’s hospital contains the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care models. For extra data, go to kids.ucdavis.edu.


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