Story of Healing
When Merranda was pregnant with her third child, Kannon, her doctor noticed Kannon’s heart was showing abnormalities during Merranda’s 20-week anatomy scan. During a follow up appointment, her doctor confirmed that Kannon had multiple congenital heart defects, including a double outlet right ventricle (DORV), Dextro-Transposition of the Great Arteries (d-TGA), Pulmonary atresia, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), an atrial septal defect (ASD), a ventricular septal defect (VSD), and a bilateral superior vena cava (SVC).
Shortly thereafter, Kannon was born at a hospital in Lafayette, which is near his hometown of Ville Platte, LA in Evangeline Parish. He was immediately transported to Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
At just 11 days old, Kannon had his first heart surgery performed by Dr. Timothy Pettitt. Dr. Pettitt performed a Blalock–Taussig shunt, or BT shunt, which is inserted to increase blood flow from the heart to the lungs.
“Kannon responded very well to that procedure,” recalled Kannon’s mom, Merranda.
Kannon and his family stayed at Children’s Hospital New Orleans for 22 days before he and his family were able to return home, where Kannon remained stable for a few months. Then, Merranda noticed that his eating habits changed. At first, her pediatrician back at home said rhinovirus, or a common cold, was to blame. However, Merranda had a feeling that something else was wrong. Sure enough, doctors in Lafayette discovered that Kannon’s BT shunt was shrinking. Kannon was transported back to New Orleans and was admitted to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) Children’s Hospital.
Kannon’s care team at Children’s Hospital could not wait for his cold to pass, so they performed surgery in February 2021, where Dr. Pettitt performed a Glenn procedure. Simply put, the Glenn procedure allows blood to flow to the lungs directly from the upper body, which relieves the heart from working too hard.
“Recovery from the Glenn was rough,” shared Merranda. “Kannon was put on a ventilator for two, almost three months, and for a moment doctors thought he needed to be put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a type of bypass, but he was able to stay off progress without it. Dr. Kurt Piggott was one of the doctors caring for Kannon during this time, and he’s the reason we still have Kannon today.”
“Kannon is one of our strongest and most resilient heart warriors,” said Dr. Piggott. “When he was admitted to the CICU for a viral illness and subsequently underwent his Bidirectional Glenn surgery, he was among the sickest patients we care for. He had refractory arrhythmias, his lungs worsened, requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation, and he narrowly escaped ECMO.”
After Kannon was extubated from the ventilator, doctors found two infections, one in his lungs and one in his blood. Treatment for these infections began in earnest, with Kannon having to take strong medications in order to fight them. Merranda recalls Kannon and her family staying at Children’s Hospital for over 90 days for surgery and subsequent treatments.
“Dr. LaTasha Lewis was our doctor in the CICU, and we have become very close” said Merranda. “All the doctors who cared for Kannon were amazing.”
Once Kannon’s care team was able to treat the infections, they began weaning him off the medication, which had to be done very slowly, Merranda recalled, as Kannon was prone to experiencing withdrawals. Weaning Kannon off his medications continued even after he and his family returned home over three months later.
“The Heart Center Team, Kannon, and Kannon’s Mom were all critical pieces that contributed to his survival and helped him to return to the same adorable child that we all love as our own. It makes me very happy to see him back in his usual happy state and even more so to be at home with his wonderful family where he belongs,” Dr. Piggott shared.
Reflecting on their time at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, Merranda was emotional, yet grateful to all who they encountered. “I was nervous and scared, but every day, they made sure someone stopped by to check on me and Kannon. Whether it was someone from the Pelican Krewe, members of the home monitoring team, CICU staff, they all made us feel comfortable and cared for, and they played a huge role in how I coped with everything happening.”
“Now, Kannon is back home and is doing great,” shared Merranda. “He turned 14 months old on October 28. He is a sweet baby who loves to eat, loves to give kisses, wave bye-bye, and just learned how to give ‘sweet eyes.’”
To learn more about the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, click here.