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

33 comments:

  1. Dear Anika, you were born the day before I got married. I always believed that month was lucky. And I still believe you're a lucky girl to have such wonderful parents who love you so very much.

    I'm going to try and help get your story out. Meanwhile, just know that we may not understand God's will but it is perfect, just like you.

    Love,
    Tita Frances

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  2. i was moved reading ur story...thru a retweet. i may not be able to donate money for your operation but will try my best to spread your story thru friends and relatives....and you will be included in my prayers too.
    keep fighting! may the force of the the Lord heal your pure heart.

    love,
    lisette

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  3. im also a mother and it breaks my heart evrytime i read stories like this. my prayers r wid u. il help spread this story to all my friends. stay strong and godbless

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  4. I will pray for you Anika. GOD has a good plan for you :)) Don't lose hope baby.

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  5. Godbless Anika. Everything happens for a reason. Always remember that. God loves us all. Godbless.

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  6. Anika, you are included in my prayers. your such an adorable kid and seeing and reading your story is heart wrecking but be strong dear, Papa Jesus is watching over you all the time. i will continue to pray for your recovery.

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  7. we are always here for you Anika.. we will exert all efforts to raise the funds.. you'll be okay soon.. stay strong.. God is with you always.. we love you.. you are always in our prayers..

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  8. Our Prayers are with You Anika...

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  9. I will help spread your story. Hang on and keep the faith! God gives good news everyday :))

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  10. God has a reasons for putting you into this situation Anika, but being with the your family until now only means that He has a plan for you and that plan will make you an inspiration to everyone..You're stronger than any people could possibly think of Anika, my heart goes with you, you're indeed special and you deserve all the help this world could offer, I promise to help you by spreading your story to everyone I know, and I also promise to include you in my prayers from this day forward..To your parents, don't lose your hope on Anika's situation, God has a brighter plan for her and being with you her still after all those struggles, He'll never forsake you, always trust our Loving Father, He only wants what's best for us..For God, nothing is impossible, we only need to ask help from Him and never forget to Listen to Him as well..God Bless you and Stay strong..we can't afford to lose you Anika, not only your parents and love ones is praying for you and hoping for you, but also all those people who have read your story and all those hearts you've touched..You're story is my strength now..you're an Angel..:)

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  11. I'm spreading ur story now.. just have FAITH littLe ANGEL.. and God wiLL never let you down, GOD BLESS YOU.. LITTLE ANGEL ^_^

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  12. i will pray for you anika.keep fighting no matter what happen:)always say this words....

    ALL IS WELL!!!!!

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  13. May God be with you. And God will always on your side and he will never let you. Just be brave and have a positive think always. We Pray for you so you can recover as soon as possible. We love you n_n

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  14. Mommy punta ka sa senate..ask ka ng help sa mga senators, it will help a lot, inaanak ko leukemia naman sakit, nakatakbo sila dun..i share ko story mo sa fb ko..ill pray for your dot.

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  15. Hello everyone! Thank you all for your prayers! I am happy to know that Anika's story touched the hearts of so many. Please keep praying!

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  16. God bless Anika. God Almighty is always with you. Have faith.

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  17. anak pla ito ni arman arjona,,ung batchmate ko sa high school...sana gumaling ka anika..your a cute little angel...I will include you in my prayers...

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  18. I will include Anika in my prayers..
    Be strong Anika, God will always be with you..

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  19. Anika.. i know God will help you get through this and the surgeries that you will undergo.. And I pray for your safety always.. Rest assured you are always in my heart.. Keep the faith! I will help spread the word. Love you always.. -tita mae-

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  20. Hi Baby Anika,

    God is Always Good...he will help you to get through all of this..Im crying while I am reading your story..I wish I have all the money in the world and give you the amount that you need..but I may not be able to donate money but will try hard to spread your story to all my friends... I can buy some of your Hearts Items.. for that i can still help you out raise funds for you.. Hang on and will pray for you..

    love...Babes

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  21. She will be healed. Miracles do happen. Just trust in the Lord. Always pray. The Lord said: Ask and you shall receive.

    You have my prayers. I'll help you spread your story. :-) God bless you!

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  22. Dearest anika, i know God will be there to help & protect. Also He will give your parents strength that they needed. You have the same case as my 1 year old son. And i know exactly how your parents feel. He has a schedule for surgery this month. We will include you as well in our prayers. Godbless you & your family

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  23. God is good all the time. He is a God of miracles, His grace is overflowing, His mercy endures forever. Keep your faith strong. Pray specific prayers,in the name of Jesus. But do not ask God why you and your husband, why Anika. We have to thank God for everything, yes everything - blessings & problems - and pray to be able to discern the lessons that God wants us to learn from all these. God bless your family. God heal Anika, in the name of Jesus Christ.

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  24. MY heart break when I read this.

    My prayers are goes to you..God Bless you baby :)

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  25. hello anika,it really breaks my heart seeing u suffering like that how i wish i can also help financially but as of now i cant,but my prayers will always be with you,just fight!may god be with you olweiz!

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  26. My heart melts for you dear Anika. I am a tough person but my tears fell when I read your story. If only I could give you my heart. It's sad to see a cute and precious girl suffering. There are just so many people in the world who take their children's hearts for granted while your parents struggle to give you a good life. Life is not fair but I know you will be healed.

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  27. Hi, I can feel your pain. My son was in the same situation last year and we needed thousands of pesos for his survival. God is good, so keep the faith. Email to friends and friends who posted my son's story on Facebook helped a lot in generating money for his hospitalization and medicine. I know we appreciate it when people say they will pray for us but we appreciate it more if they pray for us as well as send something for us. Our family has not recovered financially. We are broke but we are getting by, we continue to pray, and we are grateful to have our son back. I don't have much to share but I am sharing a little for your Anika. I am also sharing her story on my Facebook wall. I will include her in my prayers. I am praying for you and your husband, too. Be strong and keep the faith. May God continue to bless you. Hang on to Him and believe that things happen for a reason.

    By the way, it helps a lot if you have a G-Cash Account. It's easier to send money thru G-Cash.

    ((Hugs))
    -happymommy

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  28. Happy Birthday Anika!! I am keeping you in my prayers! May God continue to keep you and your family strong.

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  29. I'll pray for you Anika, I'll help to spread your story to my blogs. >:)<

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  31. Im also a mother and somehow i know hiw you feel mommy karen. Ill be including baby Anika in my prayers and will be getting in touch with you soon. Hoping i can help in a small way. Be strong mommy. Baby anika needs you strong and full of hope more than you ever know.

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