Tag Archives: 1in100.org
The Birth Announcement (That We Didn’t Want to Send)

The Birth Announcement (That We Didn’t Want to Send)

Eve Isley Saarinen was born the evening of Friday, December 12th  – 6 lbs, 9 oz, 20 inches… lots of beautiful dark hair.

At 2 days old, Eve was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. It’s a broad category.  Her biggest problem is a severely leaky mitral valve, which puts strain on the whole heart function, enlarging the heart and putting pressure and excess fluid on the respiratory system.  She was transported by Lifelink to the University of Minnesota NICU on the 14th.  Paul drove through the blizzard that night to be at her side, but since I had a c-section I could not be discharged until the next day.  Took a cab over there on the 15th and we hunkered down for the next 5 days.  The medications seemed to be working at first, but within a couple days her heart was continuing to get larger, her breathing more labored.  After an episode of SVT – which is basically super-fast heart arrhythmia, she was immediately transported to the U of M Children’s Hospital pediatric intensive care unit – closer to the full time cardiology staff and cardiac surgeon.

She was started on a new, stronger drug to alleviate some of the pressure and workload on her heart.  We were warned that her situation was precarious.  The surgeon and team spoke to us of a possible transplant (her heart had already been greatly damaged by her defect and the tachycardia).  Yet with all this, she has started to turn a corner and improve.

It is slow progress – and it’s hard to be patient.   We don’t know how long we’ll be here as the medicines do their work…though they seem to be stabilizing her.  We’ve told our parents to come now…want them to know her if God takes her from us now.  Just writing this is almost unbearable.  For now, we are only positive around her…so we cling to a tentative plan to get her bigger and stronger for a heart surgery at about 3 months old.

There are very sick children all around us here.  It’s the holiday season and there shouldn’t be any sick children.  Anywhere.  So we pray for all these babies and continue to be grateful for how well Eve has been doing.

Blessings to all of you in the new year – cherish your new arrivals.  They are the greatest gifts.  We’ll do our best to keep you posted (Paul’s Eve blog updates can be found at:  www.tweetandmeet.com)

Annamarie, Paul, Jack, Elle and baby Eve

Up Next: Newborn Screening for Heart Defects

Up Next: Newborn Screening for Heart Defects

The Department of Health and Human Services just held a stakeholder call to update on the status of the recommendation to screening newborns for CCHD with pulse oximetry. Given the 5 recommendations related to this screening, the Secretary has found several items she would like to have further clarification on to move forward with the screening (see the original recommendation letter here). 

It was clearly stated that the Secretary recognizes the critical importance of CCHD, and has requested further efforts be undertaken immediately to work through the issues surrounding the pulse ox technology itself, follow up diagnostics, service infrastructure, and education. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (of 2007) required the formation of a supplemental Interagency Coordinating Committee on Newborn and Child Screening issues. This committee includes directors of the CDD, HRSA, NIH and AHRQ. The committee has been IMMEDIATELY tasked with reviewing the original SACHDNC five recommendations, any gap areas, and the document produced from the Implementation Workgroup – their goal is to close the gaps. It is the committee’s first order of business…and they have 90 DAYS to provide a plan of action.

Here’s what I know. Without the outreach all of you did, sharing your support and personal stories, this important secondary advisory committee step wouldn’t be happening. This was going down the road of being an averted recommendation. Now it’s not.

So while we might not have the green light quite yet, the motor is running and the car is in gear. Please accept my profound gratitude for all you continue to do to support early diagnosis of heart defects.

I can be honest here, with all of you. These last 10 days have been hard. a hundred hours of time, anxiety, nausea, all of it. My first reaction to the 90 day delay was this: in 90 days, 1,000 more babies will die – and realistically, 200-300 of them will be contributed to by late diagnosis.

But I also realize there is solid intent on the part of the federal stakeholders to get this right. In that spirit,  let’s support this effort, continue the work already being done, and look forward to widespread implementation of newborn screening for CCHD.   #1in100

All About Eve…

All About Eve…

On this day last year, I finally was able to talk about Eve.  I sent my first message to friends and co-workers since Eve’s delivery on December 12, 2008.

“Sorry to have missed you all over the holidays….and that it has taken me a while to write this email.

Eve Isley Saarinen was born the evening of Friday, the 12th  – 6 lbs, 9 oz, 20 inches….and lots of beautiful dark hair.

At 2 days old, Eve was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. It’s a broad category.  Her biggest problem is a severely leaking mitral valve, which puts strain on the whole heart function, enlarging the heart and putting pressure and excess fluid on the respiratory system.  She was transported by Lifelink to the University of Minnesota NICU on the 14th.  Paul drove through the blizzard that night to be at her side, but since I had a c-section I could not be discharged until the next day.  Took a cab over there on the 15th and we hunkered down for the next 5 days.  The medications seemed to be working at first, but within a couple days her heart was continuing to get larger, her breathing more labored.  After an episode of SVT – which is basically super-fast heart arrhythmia, she was immediately transported to the U of M Children’s Hospital pediatric intensive care unit – closer to the full time cardiology staff and cardiac surgeon.

She was immediately started on a new, stronger drug to alleviate some of the pressure and workload on her heart.  We were warned that her situation was precarious.  The surgeon and team spoke to us of a possible transplant (her heart had already been greatly damaged by her defect and the tachycardia).  Yet with all this, she has started to turn a corner and improve.

With only a couple setbacks, Eve has been getting stronger every day.  It is slow progress – and it’s hard to be patient.   We don’t know how long we’ll be here as the medicines do their work…though they seem to be stabilizing her.

The tentative plan is to get her bigger and stronger for a heart surgery at about 3 months old.

There are very sick children all around us here.  It’s the holiday season and there shouldn’t be any sick children.  Anywhere.  So we pray for all these babies and continue to be grateful for how well Eve has been doing.

Blessings to all of you in the new year – cherish your new arrivals.  They are the greatest gifts.  We’ll do our best to keep you posted (Paul’s Eve blog updates can be found at:  www.tweetandmeet.com)

Annamarie, Paul, Jack, Elle and baby Eve”

I can tell you writing about this today – as I try to finally get the 1in100.org website up and running – nearly brought me to my knees.  Those days were a fog.  A never-ending series of rounds, drugs, dozens of nurses, sleeping on floors, praying and praying some more.  We wouldn’t see our other children for days on end, for fear of what might happen if we left Eve’s side.

None of this is news to heart families.  They’ve seen it.  Lived it.  And then some.

The blessing of Eve is her journey.  I can honestly say that I would not be doing any of this if we’d lost her.  The pain would be too intense.

But today – one year after Santa actually cried at her bedside – we are mobilizing.  We give thanks for our gifts and will never, never forget that each day thousands of families are living it.  It is with the greatest honor to those comrades in arms that I make my first official 1in100 post.  Know more.  Do more.  #1in100.