Last fall, I took Kelsi to an allergist because she had a chronic runny nose. The doctor found she also had a heart murmur and suggested we follow up with a cardiologist. That’s when we discovered Kelsi had an atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) and would need open heart surgery: Kelsi had three heart valves and two holes in her heart that needed repair. We didn’t see that coming at all! She was five years old and otherwise healthy. She tended to take more naps than my other two girls had, but we hadn’t thought anything of it.
A family friend’s son had been to Doernbecher for multiple heart surgeries, and my friend highly recommended Doernbecher. In fact, she’d stayed in touch with many of the nurses who’d taken care of her son—and one of those nurses emailed me to answer any questions I might have. That’s how we made the decision to come to Doernbecher.
When we let our cardiologist at home know we decided to go with Doernbecher, he contacted Dr. Shen and got the ball rolling. We were then contacted by other members of the team, who helped with our insurance and getting us set up at the Ronald McDonald House.
We flew to Portland on a Monday night, so Kelsi could have a sedated echocardiogram (she didn’t need to be sedated; she ended up falling asleep!) and we met with Dr. Shen and his staff to go over everything that was going to happen. Wednesday they did more tests, and Thursday morning, they did the surgery.
Jan, one of the Child Life specialists stands out: Whenever we’d pass her in the hall, she’d stop whatever she was doing to get Kelsi a surprise, gave us the tour of everything, from the pediatric intensive care unit to the waiting room to the recovery area. Just really, really nice.
Kelsi recovered a lot faster than we thought: We expected 10-12 days, but we were in Portland for only week. Now, you would never know anything happened. She bounced back fast and has a ton more energy. She can even keep up with her sisters and the neighborhood kids.
As hard as this was to go through, we felt we were in the best hands. Of course there were risks, but we felt comfortable in the care provided. Everyone was phenomenal: There wasn’t a single person who didn’t go above and beyond for her.