Story of Healing
Battling a heart condition is emotional and arduous. But battling a heart condition as one of the most infamous natural disasters is approaching the Gulf Coast is a whole other situation. That’s what happened when Addisyn James was born in June 2005.
When Addisyn was born in central Louisiana, near her hometown of Winnfield, LA, in Winn Parish, her family did not know she had a heart condition at first. But soon after she was born, Addisyn was diagnosed with an interrupted aortic arch, which is a rare heart condition in which the aorta does not form completely. Addisyn and mother Destiny were immediately transported to New Orleans, where she had her first open heart surgery at 14 days old at a neighboring hospital.
As Addisyn was recovering, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. As we remember all too well, the storm was intense, but the aftermath was devastating to the city. Addisyn’s mother, Destiny, remembers that she was not able to stay at the hospital during the storm, but Addisyn was transported back to a hospital in Rapides Parish in the middle of the night to escape the dangers of the storm.
It was for Addisyn’s second open heart surgery when she was just two years old that she and her family came to Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Addisyn underwent her second surgery and her third open heart surgery took place a year later when she was three years old, performed by Dr. Timothy Pettitt. Following her second surgery, Addisyn had a long and hard recovery, but after her third surgery, recovery was much easier.
“We had a wonderful experience at Children’s,” said Addisyn’s mom, Destiny. “I could not have asked for better care from each member of Addisyn’s care team. We spent most of our time in the pediatric intensive care unit and I always felt like they were on our level. In fact, after Addisyn’s second or third surgery, Dr. Pettitt sat with her for the whole night following to ensure she was recovering well. That was amazing to me.”
One of the most vivid memories Destiny shared was after Addisyn’s third open heart surgery. Throughout the early years of her life, Addisyn was a small baby and her skin was blue most of the time due to her heart condition. But after her third open heart surgery, Destiny remembers they walked in to see Addisyn post-operation and she was not blue anymore. This moment is emblazoned in Destiny’s memory as a turning point in Addisyn’s journey.
After three open heart surgeries and a dozen other procedures, Addisyn is now an average high school junior at Calvin High School where she loves her agriculture classes, 4-H Club, and she loves to be outdoors and swim. Her heart rate is monitored very closely by way of a loop monitor, so heart rate can be regulated no matter what activity she is participating in.
“But that doesn’t hold her back,” shared Destiny. “You wouldn’t know by looking at her that she has a heart condition.”
Learn more about Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ Heart Center, its services, and its providers here.