Brad Byrd speaks to the family and of a young girl named Meredith who has a congenital heart issue. They share the battle and journey it took to save her life.
BB: Well Tonight the story of a princess. Well, it sure seems appropriate to use that title. Her name is Meredith. She’s four years old and is like most four years old, no longer a toddler, becoming more vivacious and curious by the day. But this little girl’s journey begs to be shared tonight. You see, Meredith was born with a serious congenital heart issue.
Joining me is Meredith, her mother Hannah Bierman and doctor Huda Elshershari with the Deaconess Riley specialty Center. She is a pediatric cardiologist.
Meridith. Good evening. Who gave you that car tonight? Can you give me a fist bump a proper greeting?
HM: You’re gonna give me a fist bump?
BB: You’re on tv tonight and you’re gonna see yourself right there. See yourself right there o the monitor. With mom? Yeah. Well, Hannah, we are talking about soo little time after Meredith came into this world. The news was not high hope for her. Those first 24 hours describe those.
HM: When Meredith was born, all of her tests were coming back great. But then about 24 hours, it showed that she wasn’t oxygenating properly. She was staking to the ICU. After a night of troubleshooting essentially they discovered she had a rare congenital heart defect that required immediate attention.
BB: The helicopter was on its way. Were you able to hold her?
HM: We did. She had a lot of tubes. Not anything that I’ve seen before. They had ventilators. She was incubated. When I held her I was terrified to move.
BB: There she is looking up at mom. That had to be tough. Because any mother and father for that matter wants to go home with their newborn baby but she was three hours away now. Tell me what was going through your mind and your heart.
HM: It was the longest drive of my life. Following her up to Riley. We didn’t talk a whole lot just alot of research trying to figure out TAPDR was. Thats the veins responsible for bringing the oxygenated blood from the lungs back to the heart, had connected to the wrong side of the heart. It’s considered a congenital heart defect. It needed open heart surgery.
BB: Dr. Elshershari you and your colleagues, you saved this little girl’s life. And this was not an easy journey. This really dates back many many years. Your inspiration to make a difference was so close to you, tell me about your brother.
HD: I was raised in a family of five children and my youngest brother suffered a very serious heart condition. He was six months of age when he got the very bad ( not audible) in the heart that lead to a serious condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. He lived through this for a few years. Heart failure, of course, he needed a lot of medication. He could not keep up with his peers. I was nine years of age when he got sick. We lived with him as a family, my parents and my other siblings. he was sick for a few years. The only cure for him at that time was a heart transplantation. Which was not a possibility in the late ’70s.
BB: Do we have a picture of Dr. Huda’s brother? This really kinda demonstrates… you’re young yourself right now you’re not a doctor yet when all this is coming down. You got to work when you saw this happen to your brother.
HD: That picture his condition improved, he spontaneously improved. We don’t know exactly what happened, my parents tried natural medicines. So they gave him a yellow egg. We think thats what helped him improve. After a few weeks of taking this, his cardiologist discovered a significant improvement in his heart condition. When I became follow Ankara Turkey, I was working with my mentor on a research paper. I found out (not audible) was extracted from the egg. That right away brought up my brother’s story and I thought right away this is what made my brother improve. I spoke with my mentor. I told her I think my brother had ( not audible) deficiency. That was given to him and he improved around four or five years of age.
BB: We see our kids and everything and the last thing. We just don’t think this can happen to a child. Obviously many children out there perhaps this is a world where many child suffer. But this situation that your daughter was in Hannah, extremely rare.
HM: The TAPDR, research that we’ve found occurs in about 2 out of every 15,00 births.
HM: Then after her initial surgery at two weeks old, when we went for her post-op surgery they also discovered that she has pulmonary vein stenosis which occurs from the best that we were able to find online in about 1 out of every 100,000 births.
BB: You can both comment on this. The nature of the surgeries the number of surgeries. How did you get through that? Because we’re not talking about one surgery. This was several procedures. Describe the procedures if you would Dr. Elshershari.
HD: I remember when she was at Riley hospital she had a correction for abnormal connection. That was performed by Dr. Mark Turrentine at Riley Hospital for Children. After that, he had to go in again and correct the pulmonary vein stenosis problem.He created a pop off… she had pulmonary hypertension to help her have a better life. Her third surgery was at Boston Children the summer of 2016 where they had to do another surgery to correct the pulmonary vein stenosis. She went through three open-heart surgeries in the first year of life. Then she had to go through several cardiac .. procedures. Which is considered therapeutic for her to do .. angioplasty and open up the pulmonary veins and continuing to have recurring … narrowing.
BB: That is a lot for a child to go through. I’m going to have Drew her father. If you would bring the star of the show back up here I would appreciate it. You can bring the car. When I look at this child right here coming up. I know you won’t want to sit on my lap so go ahead and sit on mom’s lap. We’ll maybe I don’t know. But I won’t press the issue. How do you get through all of this? She wants dad.
BB: She wants some water too.
HM: Oh yeah, She’s a daddy’s girl. Well. First and foremost I think that the first initial surgery I watched my marriage just solidify. My husband really kind of took on a lot and was there for me and was a strong rock. I also have my faith. I had a church family that really took care of us as an extended family. Many many friends stepped in to be shoulders to cry on.
BB: And Meredith I have a question for you before you step down. Who is your best friend? Who’s your best friend?
HM: Whose this? You can say it out loud you don’t have to whisper hunny.
MM: Mrs. Elshershari.
BB: Yes. There is quite a bond between you and her. It’s like when we get the child to talk to grandma.
MM: I’m gonna jump.
BB: You’re gonna jump okay. I think she’s doing just fine folks. And I’m getting a wrap right now. It’s an incredible story and you can learn more about this by going to the Deaconess website. And it called Meredith’s story. Thank you soo much for being here tonight. And parents give your kids I know you will an extra hug tonight.
HM: Thank you for having me.
BB: You’re watching Eyewitness News at nine we’ll be right back.
(This story was originally published on March 10, 2020)