Story taken in part from the U of M website/Jennifer Helstrom, Hailey's mom.
On March 25, 2010, Jennifer went into labor. As Jennifer and her (now ex) husband, Scott, drove to the hospital, labor progressed much quicker than expected. Scott was speeding when a police officer pulled him over. A few minutes later, that police officer delivered Baby Hailey — along County Road 5 in Cambridge, Minn. — in the back of the family van.
Jen immediately noticed that Hailey’s lips were blue and were concerned about what impact the 35-degree weather was having on her newborn. An ambulance transported Jennifer and Hailey the rest of the way to the hospital. Hailey was admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit due to respiratory distress. A week later, Jennifer and Scott learned that their baby’s lips were not blue from the cold but because she had truncus arteriosus, a serious congenital-heart defect.
When Hailey was two weeks old, doctors implanted a donor heart valve and at three weeks, added a pacemaker. At four months, Hailey’s doctors implanted a new pacemaker and referred her to University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital for specialized care. Hailey’s condition worsened — her heart was failing due to underlying dilated cardiomyopathy (decreased heart function because of a weakened and enlarged heart) that had evolved separate from the truncus arteriosus. Hailey would turn blue during normal infant activities such as eating. In September 2010, she was added to the transplant list.
Two weeks later, Hailey was comfortably asleep in Jennifer’s arms when the phone rang. “Something made me get up,” Jennifer recalled. “I took a deep breath and answered. It was our transplant coordinator, Tracy Demars. She said, ‘Jenny, we have a beautiful little heart for Miss Hailey.’ I remember those gentle, kind words like it was yesterday.” Jennifer then embarked on one of the most nerve-wracking drives of her life.
Hailey was able to get a heart quickly due to her age, blood type and size. The transplant however, was higher risk due to Hailey’s weight of only 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds). The surgery went well and there were no complications.
Hailey was discharged two weeks after the transplant and has shown no signs of rejection.
Her cardiologist, Rebecca Ameduri, M.D., says that Hailey’s prognosis is very good since infants have the best long-term transplant outcomes. Since the transplant, Hailey has begun talking, and is eating well and growing. She requires a strict regimen of anti-rejection medications, but Jenny feels so blessed to have her, and is extremely thankful for the donor family that gave Hailey another shot at life.
|Hailey & mom, Jen, Christmas 2011|