Mending the Tiniest of Hearts
London Horkey is a vivacious toddler who speaks in full sentences and loves macaroni and cheese.
“I mostly forget that she has a problem with her heart,” said Chelsey Horkey, London’s mom.
When Chelsey went to a routine ultrasound to find out the gender, instead the sonographer delivered heartbreaking news. London had several heart defects.
Overwhelmed by the diagnosis, Chelsey was referred to Children’s Health for a fetal echo and to meet with the team in The Heart Center. They explained her defects – tricuspid valve atresia, sub-aortic stenosis and coarctation of the aorta.
“It was definitely the most devastating appointment we've ever been to as we discussed what would take place,” Chelsey said. “But we felt confident in the hospital and skill level and decided to move forward.”
‘The Team Carried us Through’
The family moved from Oklahoma City to a small condo close to Children's to entrust them with London’s only chance at life.
London was born and immediately transported to Children’s. London would undergo three surgeries. Dr. Joseph Forbess, division director of Cardiothoracic Surgery and co-director of The Heart Center at Children’s Health, performed the first procedure, the Norwood, when London was 7 days old. She stayed in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for eight weeks with challenges of feeding and gaining weight.
“The time between the first and second surgery was extremely difficult for us, but our nurses and doctors completely carried us through,” Chelsey said. “They were there for all our questions and stopped at nothing to intercede for us.”
London underwent her second surgery, the Glenn procedure, at 6 months old. She excelled through that recovery and went home 10 days later. Dr. Matthew Lemler, pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Health, checks London’s saturation levels and performs an ultrasound on her heart every four to six months.
“Dr. Lemler is a very thorough and skilled doctor,” Chelsey said. “We would have no other be her cardiologist. If something were to go wrong he will catch it first.”
A Typical Toddler
Dr. Lemler says that London has a very good prognosis.
“Other than experiencing lower saturations compared to other children, she is a normal little girl,” Dr. Lemler said.
London will have her third surgery, the Fontan, when she is around 4 years old. Chelsey says that she is thankful for the Children’s team every day that she watches her rambunctious toddler grow and thrive.
“Our experience with the team is second to none. They became family and friends we will keep forever.”