Wellness checkups are vital


By Lowell Lavy

Guest Contributor

My daughter, Danette Haddix took her infant, Greta Jo to Dr. Hawley at Family Health in Greenville, Ohio for her routine four-month wellness checkup on Monday, September 16, 2019. The only concerns that Danette had were that Greta had sweating episodes and seemed to have less weight gain than one would anticipate.

During the appointment, Dr. Hawley noticed some paleness, and she was rightfully concerned about the weight gain which was determined to be an increase of only one pound in the previous two-month period. Upon further examination, even while Greta was protesting vehemently by using her vocal cords at their highest capacity, Dr. Hawley discovered a slight heart murmur which had not been previously detected. She subsequently ordered a chest x-ray.

The next morning, Dr. Hawley’s office called Danette and informed her that Greta’s x-ray had shown an enlarged heart. She was directed to take Greta to Dayton Children’s Hospital immediately. Upon arrival at Dayton Children’s she was met by Dr. Ross who quickly diagnosed Greta with coarctation of the aorta. This is an extremely critical condition; in layman’s terms, it is a narrowing of the blood vessel which severely limits the amount of blood passing through the body’s most important artery.

Dr. Ross immediately instructed Danette and her husband, Jamie to proceed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Danette rode in the rescue squad with Greta to Columbus late that evening. When Danette and Greta arrived at the hospital and Danette saw the team assembled to meet her baby, she was suddenly very keenly aware of the gravity of the situation.

In the following hours, it was determined that surgery was needed and was scheduled for Friday, Sep. 20 at 2:00 p.m. The plan was to open little Greta’s chest and remove the narrowed area of the aorta and then re-join the artery.

On Friday, several of our family members and our pastor and his wife were assembled in Greta’s room as they prepared her for surgery. The transport team arrived to take her to the operating room. They were scheduled to transport her at 1:45. At 1:39, while Danette was holding her, she noticed that Greta’s lips were becoming blue. It immediately became apparent that she was in serious distress.

Let me just interject this. I didn’t sign up for this part of being a grandpa. I watched in the next few seconds, as a Code Blue was called and medical professionals descended upon the scene and began CPR on Greta. A breathing tube was inserted, and after several minutes we were informed that she had a heartbeat and was being stabilized. This and the following moments became perhaps the longest hour of this grandpa’s life.

The same day, they performed an emergency catherization with balloon dilation which opened the narrowed area slightly. During the catherization, the opening was increased from approximately a penny’s thickness to a slightly larger opening. This was an improvement, but it was not a long-term solution.

After long consideration it was decided by a team of cardiologists and other medical professionals that it would not be beneficial to proceed with the previous plan of surgery. Instead, it was determined that the placing of a stent in the aorta would be the best plan of action. On September 26 the stent was inserted, and a week and a half later she was released from the hospital.

Greta is now four years old and in pre-school. She is listed as “stable” by Dr. Ross. She has an echo scheduled for June of this year. She is on heart meds twice a day and aspirin due to her stent. Most likely the medical team will go in and expand the stent within the next one to two years. Overall, she is doing excellent. Her mom says all she needs is an occasional “kick in the pants”.

Danette is employed by a nationally known gospel music family. For this and other reasons, tens of thousands of people became aware of Greta’s situation. Prayers were offered in her behalf from all over the nation. Danette and Jamie are extremely grateful for this outpouring of support.

Danette and Jamie also would like to publicly thank and praise Dr. Hawley for her attentiveness in discovering the heart murmur. This led to the order for the chest x-ray and the following diagnosis that sent her to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and saved her life! Thank you, Dr. Hawley.

Danette would like to send a message to all mothers of infants: “Do not neglect your baby’s wellness checkups. You may save your child’s life”.

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