By Margo Whisler
Evelyn was born in 1997. At two weeks of age, the Cardiology department at Children's Hospital quickly determined that Evelyn had severe VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect). Her heart had many holes and was enlarged. Her lungs were full of fluid. She was admitted to the hospital immediately. Her cardiologist said there were two options to consider for her care: 1) Surgically close the holes in her heart or 2) give her medication to treat her enlarged heart and wait to see if the holes close on their own. He recommended the second option.
After 5 years all but one of her holes had closed. Things had been going so well, I just assumed the last hole would close on its own as well. But every night I would lay my head on her chest and instead of hearing "thump, thump" I heard "squish, squish". Finally her cardiologist said it was time to fix the last hole before it caused permanent damage to her lungs.
Then her cardiologist told me that there had been great advances in repairing VSD’s in the last five years and asked that we consider an experimental procedure called cardiac catheterization. This procedure had only been performed on a hundred children in the United States to repair VSDs so there were no statistics to base our decision on. Our choice was easier when we were told that the person who would be performing the procedure travels the country to teach other doctors how to do it. You can’t get a better expert than that! The procedure was incredibly successful. Evelyn was full of energy within days after the surgery. Within months of the procedure she grew several inches and needed an entirely new wardrobe.
Four years later, she is one of the tallest children in her class and plays soccer and basketball. She has not had any complications from the procedure or the device that closed the hole in her heart. In fact, the device is expected to get FDA approval in the very near future. Evelyn loves to tell people her heart is stronger than others because it has metal in it!
I can’t begin to explain how much Children’s Hospital means to me. The amazingly-talented doctors gave my little girl a new lease on life; and they were right in my backyard. I can’t believe how fortunate we were to have such an amazing hospital so close to home.
In addition to the amazing doctors, Children’s Hospital really is committed to helping families that can’t pay for care themselves. I was in college when Evelyn was born and her father had lost his job a week after she was born. When she was admitted to the hospital she had no insurance and I had no income. When I received a bill for tens of thousands of dollars, I was devastated. I was financially ruined at age 21. Then I called the financial aid department, filled out some forms, and was given a clean slate. Children’s Hospital’s commitment to patient care regardless of their ability to pay is truly inspiring and I will be forever grateful.and, now that I’m back on my feet, I’ll forever be donating money to Children’s Hospital so they can continue changing other kids’ and their families’ lives.