Peta and Brett Hearn began their journey with congenital heart disease (CHD) during pregnancy at their 20-week scan, which picked up on their daughter Izabella’s heart condition. The emotional journey started here as not only did they have a child with a heart condition, but they also had another child to monitor as they were having twins.
The scans increased for the safety of both babies, and they were informed that they would be heading to Brisbane, over 15 hours away from their home near Townsville, to have the girls as Izabella would need heart surgery straight away.
At 36 weeks, Izabella and Bethany were delivered on 13th January 2012 and due to complications and concerns with her heart and size Izabella was taken to ICU at the Mater Mothers in Brisbane. After birth, the surgeons didn’t want to operate on Izabella due to her size and she remained in ICU for three weeks as the hospital tried to increase her weight to be able to operate.
“Every day we made the trek from Ronald McDonald House, which was our home away from home to see the girls when we would get to the Mater, Brett would go and see Izabella in ICU and I would go to the nursery to feed Bethany and then we would swap places,” says mum Peta.
On 22nd February, Dr Sylvio Provenzano and his team operated on Izabella and put a 4mm shunt in modifying the left side of her heart.
“Brett and I found the day of the operation long, scary, and the emotions for both of us ran high. Being on a roller coaster was easier than the process we had gone through,” says mum Peta.
On 11th March Peta and Brett returned home to friends and family after being away for two months.
“We had used up all our sick leave and if we didn’t receive support from HeartKids and Ronald McDonald House we wouldn’t have been able to cope with the bills. We had meals provided, a place to go for a break from the hospital rooms and other heart families to talk to about our journey,” says mum Peta.
Just as they thought their journey had finished, and Izabella would just be on reviews, she had another two procedures on 2nd October 2013 and 15th November 2017. In 2013, the surgeons attempted to repair the Pulmonary atresia and VSD (hole in her heart). Although it wasn’t as serious as the first operation, the emotions came to the surface fast and the day was long, as Peta and Brett waited on the call to know that the operation was a success and their little one was safe. In 2017, the surgeons performed a balloon dilatation to try and widen a narrowing in the pulmonary artery conduit.
Izabella is now a bubbly 11-year-old girl who is a social butterfly in and out of school and she has a strong will for life. She has a passion for dancing and has explored ballet, tap and now contemporary. Since she has been able to move, she has been independent and determined to do the same things as her sister and friends. ‘You cannot do that’ is not a word in her vocabulary and if she hears it, it just fires her up more and gives her more determination to complete the task at hand.
Izabella is now on yearly reviews, but we have been told that Izabella will be due for surgery to replace the pulmonary valve sometime soon but at the moment she is not having any difficulty keeping up with all the other children in the neighbourhood.