Fruita child will need heart surgery by age of 5
At 14 months, Addison Scott sputters and coos, opening her mouth and eyes wide to giggle when her mother tickles her. The happy baby who can say “momma,” “dadda” and “baby” only recently began sitting up by herself. While these milestones are expected of infants at younger ages, Addison’s mother, Angela Scott, exhales a sigh of relief just because her child is alive. Born with half a heart, little Addison was never expected to live a year.
“The biggest misconception people have is she’s so big, she must be healthy,” Angela said.
But Addison is not a healthy child, having already undergone two open-heart surgeries that saved her life after being born with a rare but serious heart defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Addison must have another surgery by age 5 to live, doctors say.
In the U.S., 40,000 children are born each year with congenital heart defects, according to heart defect advocacy groups.
The Fruita mother would love to meet up with other local people, either those who live with heart defects or their family members, to share stories and hope. She has initiated a support group that meets for the first time next month.
“I want her to have some friends with scars,” Angela said, holding Addison and revealing a mended gash that runs the length of her chest. “My biggest message is, it’s for anyone who has a heart defect or who has been affected by someone who has one.”
Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week runs through Valentine’s Day. Angela hopes word will get out about the struggles of those with heart defects.
Angela, 26, was having a healthy pregnancy and delivered Addison, her second child, just before Thanksgiving in 2008.
A doctor did a quick check on Addison before she was discharged and heard a heart murmur. An echocardiogram, or an ultrasound of the heart, revealed her condition, Angela said. The infant was flown by helicopter to Denver’s Children Hospital, where she underwent open-heart surgery at seven days old. The Scotts — Angela, her husband, Danny, and their first child, Savannah, now 4 — spent much of the next two months in the hospital by Addison’s bedside. Two months after coming home for the first time from the hospital, follow-up heart surgery was needed.
Addison’s first months of life were defined by a tangle of cords, a feeding tube and a ventilator as she fought for her life, her struggle captured in photo albums on the family’s coffee table.
These days, Angela rarely takes Addison out into the community for fear her daughter could catch a cold or the flu, attacks that her weakened immune system would not be able to fend off.
Once, while taking Addison to a local grocery store, Angela was chastised by a worker who questioned why her child was on oxygen. She didn’t look like a premature baby who would need assistance breathing, the worker reasoned. Angela bristled at the assumption and given the chance, would have been willing to explain her child’s heart condition.
That experience and other similarly frustrating reactions by others solidified Scott’s desire to create a support group.
“I just feel like heart defects are the number-one killer of children and no one ever talks about it,” Scott said. “I don’t want Addison to grow up feeling different. She’s a little miracle.”