Natalia is just like any other one-year-old girl. She’s a sweet, loving baby and a Daddy’s girl who sees him as her everything. She’s also described as a hyper, energetic baby, and many people wouldn’t be able to tell after meeting her that she has been in and out of the hospital her whole life.
On January 21, 2017, the day she was born, Natalia’s parents were told she had a congenital heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), where the blood flow through the heart is weak due to the left side of heart not fully developing while in the womb. She was also diagnosed with aortic valve atresia and ventricular septal defect, which are linked to her HLHS.
Natalia was immediately transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where doctors performed the Norwood procedure. This surgery’s purpose is to rebuild the heart, so the right side of the heart becomes the main pumping chamber to get blood to the lungs and rest of the body.
After two weeks of recovery in the hospital, Natalia was sent home to fully recover. Six months later, she returned to the hospital to have the follow-up Rastelli surgery and coarctation repair. Following the surgery, Natalia was in a feeding tube for about four months. With love, patience and the help of the doctors and specialists of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, she was able to regain strength and recuperate well.
Natalia is a baby, so the doctors have always been very loving to her, and it’s important to have a relationship with each of them because they’re the ones who are handling my daughter’s life,” says Dennise, Natalia’s mother. “Along with the professional procedures, they have also referred resources for psychologists, support groups, and anything else I would need for Natalia.”
Recently, Natalia had her six-month follow up appointment with her cardiologist Dr. Sharma. They performed an echocardiogram (echo) and discovered that the right ventricle to her pulmonary artery tube with stent is narrowing. Dr. Sharma and other cardiologists are currently in the process of reviewing Natalia’s case and deciding what next steps are needed.
To all the parents who have a child facing congenital heart conditions, Denisse has this message: “Even though it’s a hard situation that we go through, in the end, everything is worth it because there’s nothing more important than seeing your child alive. All the sleepless nights, the feeding tubes, the patches on their cheek; it’s all worth it when you see they’re happy.”