Madison Smith | CHD Awareness Week
For day two of CHD Awareness Week, we are highlighting Madison Paige Smith and her CHD, ventricular septal defect (VSD). Madison was born on December 20th, 2013. Because she was not diagnosed in utero, her condition wasn’t detected until she was seven weeks old. During her battle with CHD, Madison has undergone one open-heart surgery and stayed four days in the hospital.
Madison’s parents, Andy and Jen, describe her as full of life, strong and a brave fighter. In a letter to their daughter, they say:
Madison, you are three! What another great year we were given. It seems like just yesterday we were watching you wheeled down the corridors of Children’s Hospital Orange County. You were so small, so fragile. It’s hard to believe that baby is the same insanely energetic, beautiful, brilliant and tough little girl that now struts her mojo in our home. You are ALIVE. Your mom and I continue to be humbly overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to Jesus for the sweet gift you are to our family. I love how you raise your voice with vigor and determination every morning at 6:30am, saying, “MOM! DAD! Come get me!” I love how you like to laugh at all of dad’s jokes (Mom has gotten used to them). I love how much you love to sing and dance to T-Swift in the garage when we work out together. I love how much you love to play with your brothers and how much they love to play with you. I love the sharp mind and generous heart Jesus has given you. AHHHHH! This heart of yours! You have a brilliant sense of humor and your Mom’s fire and gentle beauty. I love that you want to be with Daddy when I head out to work and want to run into my arms and hug me when I come home. I love that you have been given to us for a season by God (when you have a child with a CHD, you realize that each day you are given is something to be crazy grateful for) to love and protect, and it is one of the most beautiful and humbling joys and privileges of our lives. WE LOVE YOU!
A normal heart has an inner wall (septum) that separates the two chambers on the left side from the two chambers on the right side. This septum prevents oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood from mixing between the two sides of the heart. A VSD is a hole in the septum between the heart’s two lower chambers, called ventricles. The hole allows oxygen-rich blood in the left ventricle to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle, causing higher pressure in the heart or reduced oxygen to the body.
Normally, the left side of the heart only pumps blood to the body and the heart’s right side only pumps blood to the lungs. With VSD, blood can travel across the hole from the left ventricle to the right ventricle and out into the lung’s arteries. If the VSD is large, the extra blood being pumped into the lung’s arteries makes the heart and lungs work harder and the lungs can become congested.
Smaller VSD’s can close on their own as the child grows, while larger ones usually require surgical repair. The most common operation involves placing a patch over the hole, which prevents shunting – the movement of oxygenated blood from the left to the right ventricle.
This is the most common type of CHD, occurring in 1 to 3 out of every 1000 births; it is more common in premature births. VSD accounts for 25-30% of all CHD’s. If it is left untreated, it can cause pulmonary hypertension which can result in lung disease. VSD can also lead to a serious illness called bacterial endocarditis, an infection affecting the inner lining of the heart.