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Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Healthwatch Fall 2009

Toddler Triumphs Over Serious Heart Defect

Miami Family Turns to Renowned Cardiac Surgery Team


When Elijah was born, he seemed perfect in every way. But within weeks, his parents learned he had a serious heart defect. Elijah's mom, Armelle, who lives in Miami, says the choice of a hospital was too important to make on the basis of geography alone.

Her choice: Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood. Its renowned cardiac team attracts families from near and far, and it is the only hospital in Broward and Palm Beach counties performing pediatric open heart surgery and cardiac catheterization.

Elijah had tricuspid atresia, which occurs in only 5 of every 100,000 live births. A valve on the right side of his heart was improperly formed, resulting in diminished blood flow to the lungs and extra strain on the left ventricle.

The news devastated Armelle and Elijah's father, Fedner. "We were crying at first," she says, "but the doctors and nurses made us feel at ease. They were very experienced, and we knew we could put our trust in them. "

The treatment was performed in stages. When Elijah was 8 months old, Richard Perryman, MD, Chief of Cardiac Surgical Services, performed a bidirectional Glenn to divert about half of his blood supply directly to his lungs, decreasing the workload of the left ventricle.

Richard Perryman, MD

Richard Perryman, MD
Chief of Pediatric
Cardiac Surgical Services

Kak-Chen Chan, MD, MBBS

Kak-Chen Chan, MD, MBBS
Director of inpatient
and interventional
Pediatric Cardiology Services

Healthy Heart, Happy Boy

Early this year, 3-year-old Elijah returned to the hospital to see Kak-Chen Chan, MD, Director of Inpatient and Interventional Pediatric Cardiology Services. Cardiac catheterization showed he was ready for the final surgery, called the Fontan procedure, to connect the remaining veins carrying blue blood from the body to the blood vessels leading to the lungs. That operation, performed by Dr. Perryman, was a complete success, and Elijah is thriving like never before.

"He used to be short of breath when he was playing, but now he's like a little Energizer bunny," says Armelle, laughing.

The warmth of the hospital's staff made all the difference to Elijah's family.

"The people at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital really know children," Armelle says. "They're caring and compassionate, and they know how to make kids feel at home."

"What separates Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital from other hospitals is that when you're being treated here, you don't feel like you're invisible," she adds. "If we ever have an emergency, I wouldn't want to go to any other hospital but this one. At Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, we know Elijah is in the right hands. "

To find a Memorial physician who is committed to patient- and family-centered care, call Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Physician Referral Service toll-free at (866) JDCH-DOC. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.