April 17, 2014

Seven!

I want to take back the time I was told that you might not live to see your first birthday. Just look at you now, 7 years loved, kissed and hugged every single day. My my wish for you is to dream, seek joy, win, learn, live life and to be here for each of your moments to watch you and to keep you on track. Happy 7th Birthday! I will always love you, my sweet cheeks.

Anika is First Honor in Grade 1

Anika shed tears of joy while receiving the First Honor medal. No one can imagine how happy and proud I am. Three years ago, she was fighting for her life, and now fighting for her dreams. We will continue to fight until you follow your dreams, no matter what. 




May 06, 2012

Anika's One Year After Heart Surgery



May 6, 2012 - Exactly one year ago today, my child was on an operating table for 8 hours, fighting for her life. I did the hardest thing I've ever done and handed over my little girl for surgery. It was so hard watching them take her away. In my mind I kept saying “Oh no! Please not yet, I’m not yet ready!”  Even though I knew that she was in the best hands, handing her off was heartbreaking and the wait during the procedure was so hard. For hours, I have waited alone, unsure of what will happen.

One year ago today, I will never forget seeing my daughter for the first time in recovery. Looking at her so beautiful, the surroundings disappeared. I did not care about the machines and the noises and the wires. All I cared about is my baby lying there, like a new baby. The machines were loud, but in the middle of everything is my perfect little pink girl and that is all that truly matters. Her life changed since then. Finally, after four years of suffering, my child is pain free.

I am proud of what my daughter has been through and nothing makes me happier than seeing her happy with her life like the other kids. She is a tough girl, nothing can stop her from doing the things she wants to do. She is a fan of taking her medicines, I don't have to trick her. She would always tell me: "Mommy the medicines taste yucky but I know..I know.." She is a big girl! 

Today, I want to thank all the people who made this possible.  

To Dr. Bob and Dr. Nancy, you have stretched your heart for my daughter like no one else can. You have provided a light to the end of our tunnel. To Suzy, Michael and Mama Conchita, thank you for the hugs, laughter and deep joy you brought us.

To Ms Stephanie of  HeartGift, you are amazing in so many ways. You have done so much for us. Josh, Jake and Reagan, thank you for making Anika happy.

To Dr. Jamie, Ana and Ate Iya, Alu, Nana, Kaya and Neo, thank you for caring for us and for being the family away from home.

To Ms Deb and all the great nurses, thank you for all your extra special care and patience for my child.

I am very thankful to the great doctors and surgeons and all the staff at Children’s Hospital. To Dr. Caspi, Dr. Pettitt and Dr. Dorotan, I cannot put into words exactly how happy I truly am that you were all able to save my daughter’s life. 


To Dr. Priyanshi and your staff, you did a great job of bringing a beautiful smile to my daughter's face.

Thank you all for making our stay memorable.


To my husband, thank you for taking such good care of our daughter! For all your help and support during the very sad and difficult time of our lives.  

Thank you to my family and friends who prayed for my daughter’s recovery and to all the people who supported, have been touched and followed Anika’s story.

When she is bigger, I know she will be very proud to tell stories about the scar on her chest. She will know one day that it is more than just a scar but a symbol of love from all the people who have devoted their personal time and effort to become what she is today.

I'm so happy and grateful that this year was a year full of experiences during which I was so lucky to meet wonderful people on our journey. We are lucky to be able to meet so many wonderful people and became a small part of their lives.

Anika’s fight is not yet over. She will need another surgery in the next 2-3 years. I am in love with this little girl and I will do anything to keep her. I have learned a lot in this journey and for that I am stronger and I know all things are possible if you keep your faith. As long as there are so many people who love and believe in my child, I know everything will be fine.

To all of you, thank you. 


Please watch this special video.



April 17, 2012

Five!


My sweet little Anika is five years old today!

Right before my eyes, you have grown up so much on your way to becoming the special person you are today. From a baby, to a little girl, you were full of life and filled with surprises. Trying to keep up with you has been many things: rewarding, challenging, hopeful and fulfilling. In every one of your years, you have given me more happiness and love. We have walked along many paths on our way from yesterday to where we are today. 

I would like to thank everyone for helping us with our journey! I would like to thank everybody we met in this adventure and to tell you that our time in New Orleans was great!

February 08, 2011

Anika's Heart Story

Anika is our Heart Baby. She was born on April 17, 2007.



She was so perfect. She was the most beautiful little baby I had ever seen. Anika grew up as a happy and healthy child until she was 8 months old when her pediatrician heard a heart murmur. We got scared but he told us that this diagnosis is actually extremely common. Sometimes these extra sounds are simply the sound of normal blood flow moving through a normal heart. Other times, a murmur may be a sign of a heart problem. After a month, the heart murmur was still present so he advised us to consult a pediatric cardiologist. We immediately consulted a pediatric cardiologist and an Echocardiogram (2d echo) was done. She referred us to the Philippine Heart Center for further diagnosis and treatment.

The 2d echo showed that she had a Single Ventricle defect (basically half a heart), a rare type of CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) with other heart defects such as:

Single Ventricle – A complex heart defect that results in one of the heart’s pumping chambers (ventricles) being underdeveloped.

Dextrocardia - is a congenital defect in which the heart is situated on the right side of the body; a otherwise harmless condition. Or refers to the heart being a mirror image situated on the right side.

Pulmonary Valve Atresia –She has a small pulmonary artery. Blood can’t flow from the right ventricle into the pulmonary artery and on to the lungs so low-oxygen (bluish) blood mixes with the oxygen-rich (red) blood in the left atrium.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) - also known as a "hole in the heart". Is a congenital heart defect in which the wall that separates the upper heart chambers (atria) does not close completely.
 


Thus began our journey to the world of CHD. I will NEVER forget the day we found out about her broken heart. She was almost perfect. I never knew there were heart defects until I had a baby with one. Her case is rare and it happens 1 in 100,000 births. A lot of moms have healthy kids but why me? and why Anika? I have always asked that question. Her dad and I had so many plans for when she came to this world but it turned out to be so many twists and turns of fate.

 

We had regular check ups at the Philippine Heart Center where several tests such as blood tests, chest x-ray, Electrocardiography (ekg) and Echocardiogram (2d echo) were frequently done. During a case presentation last December 2009, the doctors have told us that her heart defect is rare and inoperable in the Philippines and we should be prepared. They are not sure if they can offer surgery. The surgery Anika needs is most performed in the United States. However, they told us that there is a Japanese surgeon who travels to the Philippines once a year to perform surgery for complex cases. But we still have to wait in line and the surgeon performs only 5 surgeries in a year. In order to find out if she can be a candidate for surgery, she needs to undergo a Cardiac Catheterization and CT Angio Scan. As a patient from the social service division, we have to wait in line to be given a schedule. We patiently waited for almost a year but we were not given a schedule and we did not hear about the Japanese surgeon's visit at all. I feel sad that they are giving false hopes to the hundreds of children who have different struggles and find ways to travel from the province just to keep up with the check-ups  and waiting in line starting at 5am to show that they are still alive, hoping they can have surgery just like my little girl. My heart goes out to these kids and their family.

Since Anika's case needs immediate attention, we transferred her as a private patient and the Cardiac Catheterization was scheduled. A Cardiac Catheterization is a procedure wherein a catheter is inserted into a chamber or vessel of the heart. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck and threaded to your heart. Through the catheter, doctors can check blood flow in the arteries, blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart, find out how well the heart valves work, and check for defects in the way the wall of the heart moves. Results from cardiac catheterization help determine whether treatment or surgery or may be effective.

On January 14, 2011, we were admitted at the PHC for the Cardiac Catheterization. Prior to the procedure, she underwent Phlebotomy because the CBC showed that her hematocrit is high, meaning she has excessive numbers of red blood cells. Phlebotomy is a procedure in which blood is taken from a vein.

 

The Cardiac Catherization took almost 3 hours and when they got her out, she was placed on a heart monitor until completely awake. They frequently checked vital signs (temperature, pulse, breathing, blood pressure), circulation, the heart monitor, and the pressure bandage placed over the cath insertion site. Thanks to the doctors for taking good care of Anika. The catheterization confirmed that her pulmonary arteries are small. The good news is that surgery is possible. However, in order for Anika to survive, she will need 2 surgeries:

Glenn Shunt & Pulmonary Reconstruction– Before the bidirectional Glenn shunt can be performed, her pulmonary artery needs to be enlarged. The goal of the Glenn Shunt is to bypass cardiac circulation and allow some blood to get to the lungs for oxygenation, without overworking a weakened or tiny ventricle. This is achieved by taking the superior vena cava, which is returning blood to the heart for transit to the lungs, and hooking it directly to the pulmonary veins. Such a move creates passive bloodflow to the lungs, completely bypassing the heart.

Fontan Procedure - A Fontan procedure is a palliative medical operation in which the right atrium of the heart is attached directly to the pulmonary artery, bypassing the right ventricle. The Fontan procedure allows blood to travel passively from the atrium into the pulmonary artery, which takes blood to the lungs to get re-oxygenated, instead of passing into the right ventricle, where it is pumped into the pulmonary artery.
We are trying to prepare ourselves for these surgeries. There are no words to explain how we feel. Although her heart will never be perfect, she can survive.

For the first surgery, we need to raise PHP 450,000. She needs the first surgery soon as possible. But at this point we really do not know how to have all the money that is necessary. We are hoping that the spreading her story through the internet will help our daughter survive. I know somewhere out there, there are people who want to help. Please help us in raising the funds to help her get her surgery.

We have some heart items and handmade creations for sale. These are items that we have made by our own hands. If you wish to buy, the proceeds will help finance Anika's surgery. If you would like to make a donation, please visit donate.

I am reaching out to the world because my daughter means a lot to me. Anika is truly a miracle baby. There are no words to describe how strong this little girl is. She is a sweet, happy, loving and smart child. When she was diagnosed, we were told that there's no guarantee for survival but she is still here with us even without the surgeries so we will fight for her no matter what.

I always tell Anika that I will give her much of life as I can. I want to do it so bad but I need all your help to give me a chance to do it. Please help me save my daughter. She is only three years old and could dream of only small things. She is too young to imagine all the struggles that await her. The world is too rich to take this child’s dream. I am knocking to your hearts to help us in this endeavor. To those who want to help, thank you so much on behalf of our entire family.

Please help us pray for Anika. Thank you to our families and friends who stand beside us. Special thanks to Dr. Nancy and Dr. Dorotan for trying so hard to help us.

 
Love, Anika