More in Featured
Alana Gotto; Three years after heart surgery
MEXICO- Alana Gotto is a happy, healthy, almost-three year old little girl who enjoys dancing around her home playing with her babies, chattering up a storm and she adores both her gamma and nona Gotto.
Alana was born with a congenital defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot, where four defects affect the heart and their blood vessels. In layman's terms, her aorta was in the wrong place, the muscle wall was atrophied and the valve connecting her heart to her lungs was leaking, causing her skin to turn a bluish tint from lack of oxygen in her blood.
“The doctors discovered a heart murmur when she was just a few days old,” stated Alana’s mom, Heather. “They couldn’t do surgery on her when she was so little, they told us we would have to wait until she was at least 11 pounds.”
In August of 2010, at five months, Alana’s doctors opened her chest and repaired the defect. They told Heather and Brandon that the repaired valve wouldn’t grow with the rest of her body, so by the time she reached elementary school, or possibly middle school, she would need another surgery. But, this time they may be able to use her femoral artery as entry and not have to open her chest.
“They told us to live a normal life,” stated Brandon. “But, when you know your daughter has had such a serious surgery and you’ve already been warned that she could have tet spells (turning blue while crying or eating), you are always on edge. It’s a waiting game.”
Alana has been back to see the cardiac specialist many times since her surgery, and the valve that was repaired is already leaking, but the family was told not to worry.
“I guess it’s a normal thing,” stated Heather. “They told us to live as normal of a life as we could and, of course, to watch her closely. We may have to keep her from playing any impact sports when she’s older, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
As Brandon and Heather prepare to bring another baby into the family, this reporter asked them if they have any concern for the heart health of this child.
“I’ve seen a high-risk pregnancy doctor already and been checked out,” stated Heather. “Everything looks good. We were told that there is a very slim chance that this is hereditary and this baby should be fine.”
For new parents finding out that their child has a heart defect, it can be a pretty scary time. Brandon noted, “Spending those first three days of her life in the hospital and not having any answers was not fun. We didn’t know what was going on.”
Heather agreed, and added, “We just had to trust our doctors and know they were doing everything for her. We had to take one day at a time and that’s what we’re still doing. One day at a time.”