Michael was born a healthy boy in July 2012 at Huntsville Hospital. After two months, Michael started to show signs of extreme pain while he was eating. He was tested and treated for reflux, but he continued to fall further and further off the normal growth curve. After four months, he was finally admitted to Huntsville Hospital for failure to thrive. Doctors would do even more extensive analysis, trying to find out why he refused to eat. After roughly a week, a full chest x-ray was done after others observed first hand his labored breathing.
The chest x-ray showed that Michael was in extreme congestive heart failure—his heart filled nearly his entire chest. The local pediatric cardiologist conducted an echocardiogram and found that Michael’s ejection fraction (EF) was around 10; 60 is normal, and anything less than 30 is considered to be heart failure. We were told that Michael might have an extremely rare congenital heart defect (CHD), something the cardiologist had seen once before in his 30 year career, or, more likely, he had myocarditis which would likely be terminal. Either way, the Children’s of Alabama Critical Care Transport Team had already been dispatched and the helicopter was on its way.
The Critical Care Transport Team was amazing—taking great care of Michael and even making the time to call us as we drove down to Birmingham to meet up with him, letting us know that he made it to Children’s safely.
A team of cardiologists, the best in their field, spent what seemed like an eternity gathered around his tiny body while they did a collaborative echocardiogram—the diagnoses: anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA), a rare CHD affecting 1 in 300,000 children. Fortunately, Children’s of Alabama cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Dabal had repaired this defect 5 times previously and he was confident he could repair Michael’s heart.
The staff of Children’s of Alabama saved our son’s life. They repaired his heart and supported him and us in the years that have followed as we worked through most of the pediatric specialties resulting from his CHD (and some that are just par for the course of a child). The expertise and the compassion of the staff of Children’s of Alabama is second to none. This story would not have this happy ending without the support of Children's of Alabama by our community.
With a humble heart, we ask that you please support Children’s of Alabama on his behalf and on the behalf of the many sick children yet to be treated by this amazing team.
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