Two-year-old Cora was born with a different sort of heart. Instead of having two arteries, one carrying blood to the lungs and one carrying it to the body, she had only one big blood vessel. She also had a hole in the wall between her heart’s chambers. Together, those features meant that her body’s oxygen-delivery system was not working properly. It’s a rare condition called truncus arteriosus. If untreated, it would have resulted in Cora’s death.
Fortunately, Cora’s condition was diagnosed early by imaging specialists at Connecticut Children’s Vincent J. Dowling Cardiovascular Care Center, while her mother, Abby, was still pregnant. That meant the cardiology team could monitor her progress and prepare a comprehensive plan to treat little Cora. That treatment included surgery a week after she was born.
“About 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, the whole process began,” says Cora’s father, Paul. “We walked our seven-day-old baby to an eight-and-a-half-hour open-heart surgery. That was the longest, hardest day of our lives. I could probably tell you how many tiles were laid on the floors of Connecticut Children’s. I walked the entire hospital for eight-and-a-half hours. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep.” Abby took the opposite approach: “I sat with my family and I don’t think I moved for the whole eight-and-a-half hours,” she says.
The surgery was successful, and after a few days, Cora went home for the first time. But that wasn’t the end. Eighteen months later, she needed a stent put in one of her arteries so it could carry more blood. And a few days after that, she had a second open-heart surgery to put in a conduit that should last 10 to 16 years before needing to be removed.
Today, Cora is an adventurous, headstrong two-year-old who absolutely loves music. “She’s a huge Elton John fan,” Paul says. “She’s loves to play her little piano, and she has drums and maracas and trumpets and recorders. She may be two years old, but she really feels the music; it just comes naturally to her.”
Thanks to the skill of Connecticut Children’s cardiology team, Cora is happy, healthy and growing: that’s music to everyone’s ears.