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Healing Amelia's Heart

Amelia at Children's National
Amelia at Children's National

Amelia was an unusually-sleepy baby at a week old. Her mom, Melissa, knew something wasn’t right. “My pediatrician said, “Go straight to Children’s National Hospital.’”

Our emergency department prioritized care for the 6-day-old. They thought she might have had an infection. Care providers transferred her to our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Dr. Lowell Frank diagnosed Amelia not with an infection, but with something more serious: a ventricular septal defect. He drew pictures for her family to illustrate the hole in Amelia’s heart and explained what her symptoms meant.  “We felt very informed,” Melissa says. “They made it possible for us to be partners in this process.”

Melissa recalls the nurses as a very calming presence. Discounted meals and care from lactation specialists also helped ease the stress of Amelia being in the hospital. “The care was for all of us,” Melissa says.

The family continued to work with cardiologist Dr. Gerard Martin (medical director of Global Services at Children’s National) after Amelia was discharged, to monitor her heart. Last August, Dr. Martin delivered news that the family could fire him — Amelia’s heart had healed itself.  She’s now almost a year old, learning to walk and loves to play with her 4-year-old brother, Maxwell.

“Amelia had a rough start,” Melissa says, “but Children’s National was the place to be to get her back on track.”

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