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patient name: Elijah

age: 12

condition: atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD)

seen in: cardiology

providers: Jill Narron, MD

Elijah has been a patient at Dayton Children's Hospital since before he was born. At 28 weeks of pregnancy, Michelle Pepper's ultrasound was suspicious for possible heart problems in the fetus' (Elijah's) heart. Michelle and her husband, Darrell, were referred to a perinatal specialist to address these concerns. The perinatal specialist had similar concerns and referred the Pepper family for evaluation at the fetal cardiology clinic at Dayton Children's.

At Dayton Children's, the Pepper family received a full fetal cardiac consultation including a fetal echocardiogram. Elijah was diagnosed with an atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) and the family was provided with an explanation of the diagnosis and implications for care at and after Elijah's birth. AVSD is a congenital heart defect in which the fetal heart does not form normally. It consists of a hole between all four chambers of the heart.

In August 2010, Michelle gave birth to Elijah and he began having routine appointments with Jill Narron, MD, pediatric cardiologist at Dayton Children's. Dr. Narron performed a comprehensive assessment of Elijah, including a physical examination and specialized testing including EKG and echocardiogram testing to look for any signs of impending compromise of heart function. She continued to monitor him closely and by his first birthday, it was time for Elijah to undergo surgical repair of his heart defect.

Dr. Narron helped schedule Elijah for open heart surgery at a partnering pediatric hospital. Very few children need heart surgery or heart procedures. Rather than provide services that would be done infrequently at Dayton Children's, we partner with other pediatric hospitals: studies have shown that centers that perform a higher number of surgeries and procedures also have the best results.

During surgery, the team of surgeons repaired the atrial defect and the cleft in Elijah's mitral valve (part of AVSD). As Dr. Narron had detected prior to his surgery and much to everyone's delight, Elijah's ventricular defect had healed itself in the year leading up to his surgery.  Elijah stayed at the hospital for a few days following surgery for further monitoring and testing.

"I remember Elijah gaining so much more energy after his surgery", said Michelle. "He was able to start being a normal one year old little boy."

While at the partnering hospital, Michelle and Darrell were asked if they would like to continue Elijah's follow-up care with them or if they wanted to return to Dayton Children's. For the Peppers, this was a no-brainer. They chose to return to Dayton Children's. The relationships and trust they had built with Dr. Narron and the entire staff at Dayton Children's were unmatched. They couldn't imagine anyone else caring for their child.

Although his surgery was more than a decade ago, Elijah continues to follow up with Dr. Narron once a year for a comprehensive cardiology evaluation.

"Dr. Narron always answers our questions, even after all these years", said Michelle. "We went through a lot the first two years of Elijah's diagnosis, but we are comfortable and confident that he is stable and Dr. Narron would bring anything to our immediate attention if need be."

Elijah is typically a very shy and reserved kiddo, but he has recently opened up and become quite chatty. Dr. Narron has a way of making Elijah feel comfortable and she gives him her undivided attention. After leaving his most recent appointment, Elijah said, "I'm probably one of Dr. Narron's most famous patients because she cares about me and likes talking with me and stuff!"