Before Shemeka became an employee at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Cardiology, her daughter Zyion was a patient. The care they received at one of the most stressful times of their lives convinced Shemeka that Children’s was much more than a medical care provider – it was like being part of a family.
As an infant, Zyion was initially diagnosed with an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). She was monitored closely until she was 3 years old, and one day, her babysitter noticed Zyion panting and looking unwell at daycare. Shemeka told her to call 911.
Zyion was life-flighted from Carrollton to The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center at Egleston Hospital while her heartbeat soared to more than 200 beats per minute. Soon after, she underwent open heart surgery to repair her Congenital Heart Defect.
“The Children’s staff told me that the babysitter who made the phone call to me about Zyion saved her life,” Shemeka said. “I couldn’t thank her and God enough. She’s my miracle baby. We don’t take life for granted.”
As Zyion recovered in the hospital, the nurses and staff were accommodative to her parents, providing frequent updates as well as extra blankets and encouragement to occasionally leave her room and get some fresh air.
“I stayed the entire time she was there, and we felt at home and cared for,” Shemeka said. “The nurses were very experienced, and you could tell that their hearts went out to these babies.”
While it was difficult to see her daughter hooked up to machines and so out of it right after the surgery, Zyion got better day by day until they were finally able to bring her home. Shemeka said she had so many questions about how to take care of Zyion, and she was comforted that Children’s Heart Center was always available to her any time of the day or night.
“The education we were given was excellent, and the way the staff is there for you reduces a lot of the fear and anxiety,” Shemeka said. “They’re not just taking excellent care of their patients, but the families as well. Children’s is very close to my heart, and I’d recommend them to anyone.”
This happened 13 years ago. Now Zyion is thriving, and her mom said she doesn’t “look, act or feel like anything she’s been through.” She is a high school junior, a cheerleader and dually enrolled in cosmetology classes at West Georgia Technical College. She doesn’t let anything stop her, Shemeka said.
Shemeka joined the Children’s Cardiology “family” in November 2022 as a Physician Liaison, helping connect referring physicians throughout Georgia to Children’s Cardiology’s outpatient practice.
When asked what advice she’d give to other moms of heart warriors, she said to trust the process, educate yourself on your child’s condition and take time for yourself.
“I glued myself to her bed, and I was completely exhausted when the second part of the race started, which was taking her home. Use the resources you have at the hospital and assure yourself that you’re in very good hands,” Shemeka said. “There’s nothing better than being among complete strangers, but still feeling like you’re part of the family.”
For more information about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.