Written by Audra’s mom - Amber Platt
On February 2009, my daughter Audra was born at 36 weeks, weighing only 4 lbs 12 oz. Even though she was small, we got to take her home. But three days later, she was admitted to the NICU because she had stopped eating and hadn't slept for nearly 24 hours. It marked the beginning of our long journey.
The Long Road Ahead
Ever since her birth, Audra was constantly sick. We also struggled with severe diarrhea, a speech impediment and delayed motor skills. She also had long-lasting colds, and difficulty gaining, and keeping on her weight.
It wasn’t long until Audra underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy, while also taking long trips to the dietitian, and even delivering stool samples that were ordered from her doctor.
Every test continued to come back negative.
A Possible Heart Murmur
About the time my daughter was almost three years old, her pediatrician started hearing a heart murmur, but he only heard it when she was sick. Then, during her three-year checkup, the pediatrician heard the heart murmur again. It was time for Audra to see a cardiologist, which would take a few months.
In July of 2012, months after her checkup, my daughter and I finally saw Dr. Rockow, a cardiologist in Flagstaff, AZ, where we live. Dr. Rockow ran an EKG and then needed to do an echocardiography, to get a sonogram of her heart.
I held my daughter’s hand, and watched as the doctor performed the echocardiography. To my disbelief, it showed a hole in my daughter’s heart.
The Diagnosis - Atrial Septal Defect
Dr. Rockow had a teleconference with Dr. Velez, at Phoenix Children's Hospital, a week after the echo was performed.
When Dr. Velez saw the echocardiograph, he determined the hole in Audra’s heart was not just a small hole they could plug, but instead my 3-year-old daughter was missing almost an entire wall of her heart, a condition called Atrial Septal Defect.
Within a month of finding out that about the Atrial Septal Defect we were down at Phoenix Children’s hospital where my daughter would undergo open-heart surgery.
Dr. Velez did an amazing job. After about five hours of worrying and wondering if my daughter was okay, I was able to see her.
When Dr. Velez came out of surgery he told me the surgery went well and that Audra did an amazing job. He explained that they were able to use part of her own tissue to rebuild the wall to her heart and that she did not even need a blood transfusion!
A Speedy Recovery
The staff at Phoenix Children’s Hospital took amazing care of my daughter. The day after her surgery, they brought in an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. By the second day of Audra’s recovery, the nurses were amazed that she was walking and running around the CVICU, doing 18 laps in one day. The nurses and the doctors at PCH were all so amazing.
Today, my daughter is a healthy and energetic 4-year-old girl. Her motor skills have greatly improved, and her speech impediment is nearly gone.
Audra’s success story is all thanks to the amazing work of Dr. Velez, his surgical team, as well as the CVICU nursing staff. The team at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital took amazing care of my daughter.