I-Team Report: Heart broken - WNEM TV 5

I-Team Report: Heart broken

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Photo provided by family. Photo provided by family.

The ultimate high of child birth was turned into a frightening and scary low when the Ramsey family found out their child had a hole in her heart.

The technical term is tetralogy of fallot. 

“It was just all so much to see this little person with all this stuff hooked up to them, machines, monitors, everything. It was just really wild and scary,” said Dr. Samuel Ramsey. “She’s a child, you don’t know what’s going on. When this little person comes out, how delicate are things going to be?”

The diagnosis was read out loud to Ann and Samuel Ramsey during their first ultrasound. Ann was just eight weeks pregnant.

It’s the news no parent wants to hear.

“Something was wrong with the ultrasound tech. She kept pausing and saying ‘hmm’ and more ‘hmms’ and then said ‘I’ll be right back’ and she didn’t come back for like 40 minutes and that’s when I knew something was wrong,” Ann said.

Doctors kept a watchful eye on mother and child throughout the pregnancy. Seven months later, they welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Sanaa, into the world.

Ann said they were only able to hold her for a short time before she was rushed off to surgery.

“They basically repaired the hole that was in her heart between the two chambers and also were able to enlarge the artery to ensure that she got proper blood flow through her heart,” Ann said.

As parents, how do you make sure your baby is thoroughly examined for congenital heart disease in the womb?

“Every woman in this country usually gets an ultrasound at 18 weeks and a lot of times that’s how the heart defects are detected,” said Dr. Carlen Fifer, a pediatric cardiologist at Mott Children’s Hospital and Sanaa’s doctor.

The method isn’t fool proof, though.

“That’s what’s frustrating. Certainly not 100 percent of them will be detected. We’re talking about a heart that’s very small at that time,” Fifer said.

It’s what happened to Late Night host Jimmy Kimmel. He made headlines this month after his son was born with the same heart defect. He was rushed into emergency surgery.

It was a reminder to the world that congenital heart disease does not discriminate.

Fifer said Sanaa, now six-years-old, was very lucky. Due to the surgery, her outlook is very promising.

“She was able to have a complete repair her first surgery so she was not required any other surgeries at this time,” Fifer said. “But we know in the future she is going to need another surgery for some narrowing that has developed over time, but that is not unusual and that should have an excellent prognosis.”

Until then, the Ramsey’s said Sanaa will continue living life and doing what kids her age do best.

“She’s bouncing off the walls and plays soccer and basketball and is smart as a whip in school,” Samuel said.

The Ramseys want other new parents who find themselves in similar situations to know they are not alone.

“There are thousands of babies living like this every single day. There is hope, there are alternatives, there is resources there. You can have a baby who has a very thriving life,” Ann said. 

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