Aoife Liron Hannan: the story of a child’s heart

In my recent post Family Photos: Courtesy of Joseph Jestes Photography, I mentioned that I have been somewhat emotive as of late. This explains the “why”…

It is, in fact, the result of this little one

Aoife Liron Hannan

Gabriella Lirit Hannan, our 4 year old…the big sister, was diagnosed with a heart defect at 9 months old. This defect, called Patent Ductus Arteriosus, was a blood vessel between the aorta and pulmonary artery that should have closed sometime after birth. In her case, and in the case of 2 of every 1,000 full-term births in the United States, the duct doesn’t close.

The procedure for “plugging” (do you like my precise medical terms?) the hole was via a catheter. Relatively simple, outpatient, and it broke my heart to hand my 9 month old to a nurse in sterile garb and watch as they carried her through a door for the procedure.

Gabriella Lirit Hannan has no complications.
She is considered “healed” of her congential heart defect.

When my wife and I found out we were pregnant with Aoife, we asked the doctor about the potential for a similar heart condition. We were assured — not that it would have made much of a difference in anything other than preparation — that additional tests were not necessary. With congenital heart defects occurring so infrequently, the chances of Aoife would have a PDA were miniscule.

And at the 2 month “well baby” appointment, we heard the all too familiar words.

It sounds like Aoife has a murmur. But this one is much lower than Gabriella’s and sounds more severe.

In the end, the diagnose was 2 Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD) and an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). Again, 1 out of every 1,000 full-term births in the United States have what is known, colloquially, as a “hole in the heart”.

Aoife had 3.

1 VSD closed, as they do sometimes.
The other VSD (which is considered large in size), and the ASD, have not.

The ASD is not a substantive issue. She can live with it for her whole life without problem.

The VSD, however, will require repair…will require “surgical intervention”…will require open heart surgery on a nearly 4 month old with a heart the size of a walnut.

My wife and I will be headed to the hospital next week, the surgery (4-5 hours) will be on Tuesday…and we will spend a good portion of the week in the hospital.

Your thoughts, your prayers, are appreciated. I am, actually, quite relieved that this is a surgery she will never remember. It will be a story we can tell her when she is grown.

And…at the end…

Aoife Liron Hannan will have no complications.
She will be considered “healed” of her congential heart defect.

The bit in the middle, that is the bit that is hardest for her mother and I.

June 23, 2011

One response to Aoife Liron Hannan: the story of a child’s heart

  1. Stephanie Wickes said:

    We will definitely keep you all in our prayers.  I am glad to hear that they are ready to do the surgery and heal you precious little girl!