When the doctors approached Scott and I about the very real and needed
option of heart transplant for Annabelle, we were devastated. We’d always known
that transplant was in the cards for her at some point, but we were thinking
teens to early 20’s…. not < 1 year old.
Because of this abrupt news, we requested to get some 2nd opinions for 3 of
the “big” hospitals that specialist in pediatric cardiology. Two of
them came back and immediately agreed with the transplant option.
|2011: My blue baby, swinging & sleeping, waiting for her heart!
The third took a little more time. And since we were racing against the
ticking clock of her failing heart, we opted to go ahead and list.
Then the third opinion came back.
They suggested that we consider a bi-ventricle repair, or in other words…
try to repair her WHOLE heart… not replace it… not continue rewiring to
only use half.
But to attempt to GROW her very small left ventricle.
We were, in honestly, completely shocked. I’d known that this repair was an
option for some less severe cases, but had been told since the day of her birth
that this was completely out of the question for our little girl. I’d never
But here we had the TOP children’s hospital in the country telling us there
might be another way. A way for my child to not have to worry about her body
rejecting her heart for the rest of her life. A way for us to not worry about
her over exerting herself because she was living with only half a heart.
HOPE. That is what I felt. A very slim ray of hope.
Against all of our doctor’s recommendation, we requested the tests that
would give us a better idea if she was truly a candidate. We were given the
criteria she’d have to meet, and told that there was very little chance she
The results came back in. And the size of her ventricle ended up being MUCH
larger than they had anticipated based on her normal Echos.
We were blown away.
Then we were faced with the real decision. Choosing transplant meant that
she’d have a whole heart… but we’d be waiting while she slowly got worse and
worse. There was a real chance that she wouldn’t live long enough for her to
receive a heart. And there was only a 70% 5 year survival rate even if she did.
But our other option… was to uproot our family and basically move to
Boston. We had no idea if our insurance would even pay for the move, and
honestly, what they were suggestion was VERY new and VERY controversial.
In the end, after much prayer and council, we decided the risk of the new
procedure coupled with the fact that we’d totally be separating our family,
made us decide to stay here and continue our transplant course.
When we made the decision, I remember fearing that I would regret it. What
if she died before she got a heart? Would I question my choice that we made in
that moment? What if there was a complication with the transplant? Would I
Yet, if we’d made the opposite choice and it didn’t work, I’d have always
questioned that way too.
I remember choosing in my head that day that I would move on with
confidence. That God wouldn’t let us screw this up, that HE had our backs and
if we were to go to Boston, he would have made it abundantly clear.
I’ve done pretty well at not regretting. My sweetie is almost 3 and is
over 2 years post transplant, and THRIVING… behind, but doing fabulous and
I’m so thankful for the LIFE of Annabelle that God has blessed us with.
Then last night, I read this fantastic article. My first reaction was elation.
While I know they are referring the study they were attempting to get Annabelle
involved in, I’m SUPER excited that they are being able to make strides to
significantly help our single ventricle babies. Funding for heart research is
VERY low compared to other childhood issues, especially when compared with the
significant number of children that are affected. So these big steps are
But then… a very small part of me had this little tingle of regret. What
if… What if we’d gone to Boston and tried to repair her heart? Would it have
grown? Would she be a little girl today with her OWN heart that was beating FOR
her, her body not trying to fight it every day? Would she be able to battle
normal colds and illnesses without fearing that her body won’t be able to fight
them? Would she have been able to make strides sooner and do things like eat
and walk and talk earlier (or in the case of eating, at all?)
Immediately though, I slapped my hand and told myself to get a grip. We made
a choice that we felt God was calling us to make, and wondering what if helps
NOTHING. I’m SO thankful for where God has brought us, for the work he has done
in our family and in our Annabelle. I’m a firm believer in LEARNING from the
past… but regrets and what-if’s help no one. They only bread discontentment and sorrow.
Looking forward… that’s what I want to do. I want to LOOK FORWARD to all
the things God has in store for our family, for my little miracle.
Because looking back gets my eyes off Jesus. And might make me run into a
And running into poles are no fun.