At just 10 days old, Violet Smith had her first open-heart surgery. Born with congenital heart defects, she wasn’t getting enough blood out of her heart into her lungs.
Violet lives in Norfolk with her parents, Jason and Jen, and her older brother and sister. For the first six months of her life, the family sought care at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD), their local children’s hospital.
At Violet’s six-month checkup, her pediatrician found that her condition was getting worse. Because of a partnership between CHKD and UVA Children’s Hospital, their pediatrician encouraged the family to transfer to UVA, where the team would be able to handle any complications.
“Transferring to a new hospital was very scary. Nobody at UVA knew us,” says Jason.
During the repair surgery, there were complications. The UVA team, including Mark Roeser, MD and Jay Gangemi, MD, ended up performing their first successful double Berlin Heart to sustain Violet while she waited for a heart transplant. A Berlin Heart is used to take over the functions of a child’s heart when it becomes too weak to perform by itself.
“Being at UVA ended up being a blessing in disguise,” Jen says.
Within two weeks, Violet received her transplant. A year and a half later, she’s about to celebrate her second birthday.
“Violet has a fiery personality. She is very spirited and adventurous. She’s very strong-willed. That personality has suited her very well thus far in life,” Jen says.
(Originally Published: UVA Healthy Balance Blog)