Hearts, flowers and chocolates often come to mind when people think of February but most people are not thinking of the heart, as in the organ. February is American Heart Month and with that also comes Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week, Feb. 7-14.
CHDs are the number one birth defect world-wide and nearly 40,000 babies born in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a heart defect. One family affected by CHD is the Veale family.
Bryan and Jessica Veale of Washington brought home their beautiful baby boy, Eli, in October 2010. Over time, the couple began to notice peculiar things about their new baby that they hadn’t noticed about their older son Zachary.
Little Eli vomited more and slept more than his brother. The day before his two-month appointment, he also wouldn’t eat and it was quickly discovered that he had lost nearly a half pound since his birth. After a trip to Daviess Community Hospital and multiple tests, it was determined that Eli had an enlarged heart.
The Veale’s two-month old bundle of joy was now headed to a pediatric cardiologist in Evansville. After monitoring him through the night, the cardiologist told the family that Eli had a group of heart defects and that the right half of his little heart had not developed because of the defects. Little Eli lives with just half a heart.
A trip to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital (PMCH) at St. Vincent’s was arranged and at just 10-weeks old, Eli was being scheduled for open-heart surgery. The Veale’s were told that most babies with Eli’s condition do not live to 10 weeks.
“They told us there was a 30 percent chance he wouldn’t come out of the operating room but it was obvious to us if we didn’t do this, he wouldn’t make it through the week,” said Jessica.