He was admitted to Daviess Community Hospital that day to check for gastrointestinal problems. During testing, it was determined he had an enlarged heart.
“That could be from a heart problem or secondary to a GI problem,” Jessica explained. “He was transferred by ambulance to Evansville to see a pediatric cardiologist.”
Eli was monitored throughout that night. His heart rate dropped and, according to Jessica, the medical staff had a hard time bringing him out of it. They did an echocardiogram and, after the doctor studied it, she got paper and pencil and drew a picture of a healthy heart and Eli’s heart to compare for the Veales.
“At 4 a.m. that morning was when we realized it wasn’t his stomach,” Jessica said.
They learned that Eli has a group of defects and, through this combination of defects, the right half of his heart didn’t develop so he lives with half a heart.
“It took me a long time to come to terms with ‘half a heart,’” Jessica said. “But that’s what it is.”
She said no real factors have been pinpointed that cause CHDs, but it is known that the heart forms so early in pregnancy that it’s formed before the mother knows she’s pregnant.
“He needed more help than he could get at St. Mary’s, so they flew him to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent’s,” Jessica continued. “Four days after his diagnosis he had his first open-heart surgery. The doctor told us most babies with this condition don’t live to 10 weeks.
“His condition was changing so rapidly É it was unbelievable.. 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.”