A mended heart

Mother writes a touching letter of thanks after her daughter celebrates her 1-year ‘heartiversary’

As our daughter’s 1 year ‘heartiversary’ nears, we are filled with gratitude. For every person who had a hand in mending Lily’s heart and for every smile, laugh, song and dance we have the privilege to enjoy because of it, we’d like to share Lily’s story. 

Just over 3 years ago, we were blessed with a beautiful, bright-eyed baby girl. We brought her home and settled in with ease. It was at her 1-month wellness check-up that our family doctor detected a heart murmur. He referred us to the Montreal Children’s Hospital and not long after, Lily had her first echocardiogram and ECG that showed she had a large VSD – a ventricular septal defect. We were shocked. How could our daughter who looked perfectly healthy have a hole in her heart? Lily’s cardiologist, Dr. Beland, answered all our questions with patience and explained Lily’s heart condition thoroughly. As Lily was not showing any signs of heart failure we developed a wait and see approach.

We watched Lily’s weight gain closely over the next year. Lily followed her growth curve, reached all her milestones and continued to thrive. We had routine echocardiograms and it appeared that the hole was closing. And it was, but over the course of the next year the tissue grew in such a way that it formed a ridge that was beginning to obstruct the aortic valve. Surgery was now inevitable.

We awaited the date of Lily’s open heart surgery anxiously. Whereas we once wanted to postpone surgery as long as possible we now wanted it to happen as soon as possible to prevent any future complications. We had many mixed feelings when we got the phone call, but ultimately we let our faith be bigger than our fear. When we met with Lily’s surgeon, Dr. Bernier, he instilled confidence in us immediately. We were as ready as we would ever be. Nothing can prepare you for handing your child, your whole life, over to someone else but we trusted them with her care. As parents, we did the only thing we could do: we carried our daughter’s heart in our hearts and poured all of our love and positive energy into it. The surgery, a reparation of the VSD and resection of the sub-aortic membrane was a complete success and our daughter recovered beautifully. Children are so resilient.

Lily’s strength amazes us and she wears her badge of bravery proudly. She has taught us to slow down and enjoy the moment. She reminds us that life is precious. And the greatest gift is that each time we look at Lily we know there is so much to be thankful for. We are forever thankful to Dr. Beland, Dr. Bernier and their teams, who not only fixed Lily’s heart but ours. 

- Angela (Lily’s mom)