Home > Patient Stories > Update: A Little Warrior's Big Battle
Published on August 25, 2022
When Carter was two weeks old, his mom, Hayley, noticed her son was having trouble breathing. The tests revealed a congenital heart defect (CHD), specifically an atrioventricular (AV) canal defect with two holes in his heart and leaky valves. Carter began care with Mercy Pediatric Cardiology Clinic with Mark Zittergruen, MD, FAAP, FACC, MBA. (Read the original story here on page 6 [PDF].)
After an exhausting and frightening series of infections and multiple hospital stays, Carter was finally well enough to undergo successful heart surgery at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital on June 1, 2017. He was nine months old.
We recently followed up with Hayley to see how Carter had progressed since then. Currently, Carter is a very active five-year-old who participates in wrestling, soccer, football, swimming and T-ball. He has had a few sicknesses as he’s grown up, but ultimately, his health has improved.
In addition to visiting his pediatrician, Carter sees Dr. Zittergruen yearly for an echocardiogram and check up.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better doctor to get us through everything Carter has been through,” Hayley said. “Dr. Zittergruen and his nurses are always there to answer any questions we have. They are very attentive and stay in touch!”
Carter has one older sibling, but recently found out that he’s going to be a big brother in November! So, Hayley had an echocardiogram done to see if their daughter will also have a heart condition. She and her husband, Eric, do not have a family history of heart conditions. But, given Carter’s experience, they wanted to be prepared.
“We found out that she will be born with a heart condition that will more than likely require surgery, as well,” Hayley said. “We are still shocked that God has given us two babies with heart conditions, but we know we will have the best care with Dr. Zittergruen and his team. We wouldn’t choose any other doctor than him to take care of our baby!”