It’s nearly impossible to spend time with 4-year-old Caydence Barrett without noticing her heart.
You see it in the way she lovingly smiles at her parents, Joe and Stephanie Barrett; in the excitement she shows describing their summer trip to Disney World; and in the way she wears it on her sleeve when she feels like she needs to be heard – young Caydence is all heart.
However, she was born with only half a heart. A condition called hypoplastic left-heart syndrome caused the left side of her heart to be severely underdeveloped at birth. Not too long ago, the condition was almost uniformly fatal for newborns.
But the prognosis for hypoplastic left-heart syndrome patients has improved dramatically in the last 25 years. Because of advancements in research and care, many children born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome live to enjoy Disney World, family Thanksgivings and their college graduations.
Expert cardiac surgeons like Dr. Joseph Forbess, the director of cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s, are to thank for that.
We met Dr. Forbess before Caydence was born, and my impression is that he’s the best,” Stephanie said. “He truly gave us the feeling that we had the right person working on our child and that he truly cared.”
Dr. Forbess successfully performed Caydence’s first open-heart procedure when she was only 5-days old. Then he operated on Caydence’s heart again at 5 months and, hopefully for the final time, shortly after she turned 3.
“She’s been perfectly healthy since her last surgery,” her dad, Joe, said. “We just have to go to Children’s every six months for checkups and take a couple of daily medications.”
Caydence began pre-school this fall, and her parents believe that the heart team at Children’s is largely responsible for her being able to share her heart with her new classmates.
“Everything the heart team does at Children’s is top notch,” Joe said. “I’d just like to thank all the donors for putting their money into a program and a hospital that has a lasting impact – not only on the kids like Caydence but also on the parents like us. We don’t know where we would be without them.”