American Heart Month: Rachel’s Story

AdventHealth Pediatric ICU Nurses, AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida

Rachel Hall and her husband Travis came to AdventHealth Winter Park to have their second daughter, Charlotte. After the couple welcomed their beautiful new daughter into the world, they couldn’t wait to introduce her to big sister, six-year-old MacKenzie. Rachel and Travis were packing up all their belongings to take baby Charlotte home, when their pediatrician walked into the room to speak with them.

The pediatrician heard a heart murmur in baby Charlotte and diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect. Charlotte would need open heart surgery to correct the issue.

Rachel was in complete shock—her one-week old, perfect baby girl needed open heart surgery? How could that be?

Over the next week, baby Charlotte was transported to AdventHealth Orlando for surgery. Post-surgery in the PCICU, Charlotte seemed to be stable, but Rachel continued to be on edge and worried.

Unfortunately, Charlotte’s recovery continued to be a rollercoaster. Rachel and Travis were sleeping at the hospital when Charlotte coded in the middle of the night. When a patient ‘codes’ the entire floor rushes to help in this life or death situation. Rachel will never forget the horror of watching all the nurses and doctors on staff rushing to Charlotte’s room. The doctor was able to save Charlotte. She was then placed on ECMO, a life support machine, for four days, continuing to have good and bad days. After about a month, Charlotte was healthy enough to go home. Rachel called this moment bittersweet:

baby smiling

“She wasn’t out of the woods until we walked out of the hospital. I had mixed emotions leaving the hospital. Charlotte had a lot of medications we needed to give her around the clock. I had to learn how to care for a baby who had a broken sternum.”

Rachel is extremely grateful to the staff who cared for her family during this stressful time, especially the doctor who caught Charlotte’s heart murmur before they went home. She also credits Dr. Alberto Marante, a physician at AdventHealth for Children, for saving Charlotte’s life the night she coded.

Rachel reflected on the month she spent with Charlotte at AdventHealth for Children:

“The staff was so supportive. Dr. Marante tried so hard to prepare me for surgery. It was my brand-new baby, and this was a super serious life or death situation. I’m so grateful they cared enough to try and prepare me. I still talk to most of the staff to this day. They really cared and made us feel like we were more than just a patient.”

After an extremely emotional experience, Rachel and Travis wanted to thank the staff that saved their newborn daughter’s life. Instead of presents for Charlotte’s first birthday, they asked friends and family to donate pacifiers and blankets for the babies in the hospital.

Like Rachel, many patients and families are grateful to their caregivers for going above and beyond expectations and requirements. How can we best thank the doctors and nurses that get us through the most painful experiences of our lives? This month, we invite you to Honor Your Caregiver with a thank you note or an online donation.

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