All babies cry.
That is their primary form of communication. But even so, at five days old, Addison’s parents knew there was something off when she wouldn’t stop crying. She was trying to communicate with her parents in the only way she knew how. First-time parents Dawn and Michael Graham took baby Addison to their pediatrician, Dr. Rebecca Scott, who ordered a chest x-ray at BSA hospital. What was first thought to be an enlarged heart turned out to be a murmur. Addison was diagnosed with an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). The ASD closed on its own. Addison’s doctors began to monitor the VSD, calculated to be approximately .5mm in size, every six months of her life.
As Addison grew, she led a healthy and active life. She has a passion for practicing dance and plays volleyball regularly. She also loves to read and spend time joking around with her younger brother, Ben. Apart from her scheduled doctors’ appointments, you may have never known that Addison had a heart condition.
In 2014, through donations to Children’s Miracle Network of Amarillo, a state-of-the-art Echocardiogram machine was purchased for the Department of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of Amarillo. This machine was used during one of Addison’s routine check-ups with Dr. Srilatha Alapati at age ten. The Echocardiogram allowed Dr. Alapati to discover what she thought was a slight enlargement in Addison’s heart. Dr. Alapati referred the Graham’s to Dell Children’s, who eventually referred them to a surgical group with Dr. Ziv Beckerman. Upon reviewing Addison’s case, Dr. Beckerman told Addison, “All indications say that you do not have to have surgery if you don’t want to”. He did not feel surgery to repair the VSD was critical; however, he shared with her that if she chose not to have the surgery, she would be at greater risk for heart infection in the future because of the proximity of the hole to the valve. “I thought, why don’t we just do it, ” Addison says, “The hole was real close to the valve, and I hadn’t thought of all this, but when I did, I thought maybe I do need to get this closed.” Addison also liked the idea of a possible future free of doctor’s visits.
Electing to have the surgery saved her life. Addison, then age 12, underwent open-heart surgery in the Summer of 2020, in Austin, Texas, at Dell Children’s Hospital. Laparoscopic surgery was not an option due to the location of her VSD. Once in surgery, with use of an internal echo, they realized the defect was oblong in shape. The external echo was only measuring the tip, but in reality, the defect was the size of a quarter. Much larger than the .5 mm they originally anticipated.
“They thought it was the size of a pinhole”, said Dawn. “They put her under nd did the internal echo. You could just never have seen from the outside, and they saw it was the size of a quarter.”
“I firmly believe that you saved my daughter’s life. She could have been one of those kids that faint or die because of something undiagnosed. It all came from the fact that Dr. Alapati saw something she felt was abnormal in Addison’s heart.
She could not have seen that without the machine provided by CMN.“
Today, Addison is a healthy 13 year old, back to enjoying dance and spending time with her wonderful family. This is possible because of YOU. Thank you for your generosity. Your gifts to Children’s Miracle Network of Amarillo changes lives.
Pictured: Addison with Dr. Alapati
Harrington Cancer and Health Foundation is proud to partner with Children’s Miracle Network of Amarillo to help children receive the finest pediatric health care in Amarillo and the High Plains Region.