Helping a Tiny Heart Find Its Pace
Jagan Hills has three older brothers, so during his two-month stay in the Children's Mercy Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), there were times when his parents needed to leave his bedside for a night to attend to other family matters.
But they knew Jagan was receiving excellent care, so Sandy Hills and Travis Sorenson of Olathe said they could rest easy for the brief periods when neither one could be at the hospital.
"There wasn't a night that we couldn't sleep because we were concerned about the care Jagan was receiving," Sandy says. "We felt that the staff members were our advocates. The doctors, the nurses, the parent support groups and everyone involved make you feel like you have your own little world within Children's Mercy."
Three weeks before Jagan was born, his parents learned that a chamber of his heart was enlarged because of critical aortic stenosis, which involves a narrowing in the opening of the aortic valve. The heart enlarges because it has to pump harder to force blood through the narrowed valve.
Jagan was delivered on April 12, 2012 in the Children's Mercy Fetal Health Center, and on his second day of life, pediatric cardiologist Karina Carlson, M.D., performed a procedure called balloon valvuloplasty, where a catheter with a balloon is inserted to the narrowed area and inflated to stretch the valve and allow greater blood flow. With a wider valve opening, the heart doesn't have to pump as hard and the chamber can shrink to a more normal size.
Jagan's aortic valve was widened successfully, but his heart chamber, specifically the left ventricle, remained enlarged and very weak.
"That was what kept him in the hospital so long," Dr. Carlson says.
At that point, Jagan's parents had to face the possibility of heart surgery or even a transplant. Ultimately, the Children's Mercy cardiac team decided against surgery and recommended that Jagan's heart be allowed to get better on its own.
"It was a waiting game," Sandy says. "We just had to watch and see. We didn't know what we were up against, but we felt like the doctors gave us the knowledge we needed and made us feel comfortable with our options. If we had questions, they were answered."
Fortunately, after two months in the NICU, Jagan was well enough to go home. In January, his heart recovered to normal strength of contraction, enabling him to start coming off medications.
"It was a slow process, but Jagan is getting along well," Sandy says. "Children's Mercy did wonderful things for him, from his delivery in the Fetal Health Center, to his stay in the NICU, to his follow-up care."
To learn how you can support Children's Mercy and lifesaving care for kids like Jagan, please contact Phil Watson at (816) 701-4339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.