Anna and Jesse Fisher took their 2-year-old daughter, Lucy, to her pediatrician to get a wart on her foot examined. When they arrived at the office, they were told that her primary physician suddenly left the office and they needed to find a new doctor. Lucy and her family picked a new physician.
Since she was seeing this physician for the first time, the doctor decided to do an overall check-up in addition to examining the wart. The doctor discovered that Lucy had a heart murmur, which can signify an abnormality of the heart. Some murmurs are harmless, while others are related to a congenital heart defect which can require surgery.
Lucy’s doctor referred her to pediatric cardiologist, Ahmad Ellini, M.D., who performed an echocardiogram – a heart ultrasound. Immediately, Dr. Ellini realized something was wrong with Lucy’s heart.
"We could tell that there was something wrong, but it was very hidden," says Dr. Ellini.
After a few more tests, including a cardiac MRI, it was confirmed that Lucy had partial anomalous pulmonary venous return (PAPVR), which is when the pulmonary veins do not connect normally to the left atrium. PAPVR requires open-heart surgery to fix it.
"A few weeks before Lucy’s heart defect was discovered, we lost our niece to a congenital heart defect," says Anna. "We were so scared with Lucy’s diagnosis. We reached out to our family to get their advice on what to do. Open-heart surgery is scary, and when it is on your young daughter, you have to find someone you trust since they will be tearing open their heart."
Anna made multiple calls to different hospitals and surgeons throughout Southern California. Living in Newport Beach, they tried their local children’s hospital, but it didn’t seem to be the right fit.
Anna stated, "I knew she would be in great care wherever I chose, but once I called MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, I knew we had found our team."
For children with heart disease that requires heart surgery, the Children’s Heart Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s works closely with patients and their families from initial diagnosis, through surgery and to home.
"We met with the family to go over Lucy's exact heart defect and the methods we would use to correct it to prevent any further issues in the future." says Shaun Setty, M.D., medical director, Pediatric & Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Miller Children’s & Women’s and the Helen Hoag Chair of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery. "We talked through all of her concerns and assured her our team would be with Lucy and the family the entire time. She would be cared for as one of our own"
Dr. Setty performed Lucy’s open-heart surgery to correct the blood flow of the two veins into the correct side of the heart. After surgery, Lucy spent two nights in the Cherese Mari Laulhere Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where one wing is dedicated solely to children’s heart patients, and she was discharged home on the second day.
"Our care team was fantastic," says Anna. "We saw Dr. Setty every day. We were invited to participate in patient rounds and the nurses would order us food in the middle of the night. The team at Miller Children’s & Women’s held our hand throughout this overwhelming process. We knew our Lucy was in safe hands and I cannot thank them enough for healing our little girl."
Today, at 3-years-old, Lucy sees Dr. Ellini every few months for a minor check-up, but has no after effects from surgery. Now, with a full heart, Lucy hosts tea parties for her family, friends and special guests.