Maya Thrives Following Heart Surgery at Two Weeks Old

Marci and Jesse will never forget running alongside a nurse from their pediatrician’s office in downtown Chicago toward Lurie Children’s.

Their baby girl, Maya, then two weeks old, had woken up early one morning and her breathing sounded unusual. Moments after the parents brought Maya to see her pediatrician, they were running, literally, toward the emergency department at Lurie Children’s, which was down the street from their doctor’s office. The baby girl’s blood pressure was high and she appeared to be in a state of shock.

Just hours later, Marci and Jesse found out their daughter had two congenital heart conditions that weren’t detected during Marci’s pregnancy: coarctation of the aorta and bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) disease. Their baby girl’s heart was failing, and she would need open heart surgery as soon as possible.

Stunned and heartbroken, Marci said the Lurie Children’s Heart Center care team immediately helped her family understand the diagnoses and the next steps. The team’s reassurance and confidence in the treatment plan was comforting.

“The physicians just scooped us up and took care of us and made us feel like there was a net underneath us – that this would be a hard experience, but it was going to be OK,” she recalls. “And they were right.”

Just a couple days after arriving at the emergency department, Maya, who was 17 days old at the time, had surgery to correct her pinched arteries. She recovered in the hospital for about two weeks, where Marci said she found physicians, nurses and staff who “went above and beyond.”

“The silver lining of this whole traumatic experience was Lurie Children’s – knowing this whole community of wonderful people had our backs.”

The surgery was successful, and Maya endured physical and occupational therapy as she healed. Recovery took time but went well, and Maya went on to hit all her milestones on time as she grew.

Today, Maya is five years old and thriving. She loves school, her friends, coloring, her older brother Avi and “anything that involves glitter and bright colors,” Marci said. While Maya follows up every 6-9 months with Lurie Children’s cardiology team, including Dr. Guilherme Baptista De Faria, Marci said her family is grateful for her daughter’s “incredibly normal life.”

"When we think about all of the horrible possible outcomes of this trauma, we are grateful not to be living with any of them today,” Marci said. “Maya is a beautiful miracle and such a bright light, and she is making an indelible mark in this world ... all thanks to the love and care of every single person at Lurie Children’s."

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