When Katie was born, she was a beautiful baby, she weighed 7pounds 10 ounces, beautiful face,skin and body. I used to just watch her sleeping and adore her. A few days after her birth, the doctors informed us, that she had a heart defect: a tiny hole from one chamber to the other. It was recommended, that we take her to Children's Mercy Hospital to see a heart specialist. We did; they did all kinds of tests and told us a lot a babies have tiny holes in their hearts which sometimes close within a year or some people live with them all their lives. Not Katie. At age three she needed open heart surgery to patch the hole (it was below her aortic valve, and when her heart pumped to push the fresh blood to her brain, lungs, and all the other organs, some blood would leak back into the heart, because the valve was being distortet. She went through the surgery, and was home in 7 days.
In no time was she back on her feet, happy, spunky, sweet, energetic little self. The surgery had been a success, the patch didn't come loose, and withheld the blood pressure. But as we found out later, the damage to valve had already been done. It remained leaking and Katie's little heart got bigger and bigger and eventually too big. We knew she would need a valve replacement sometime in the future; at least we had time to let Katie be KATIE. She was great! She loved playing Basketball-it was so important to her to do all the things other kids and her older sister did. The more I attempted to slow her down, the more important it was to her! She had so many friends, she loved animals, she loved Pooh-bear! Katie never led up. Her energy was endless.
In July, we returned to her Cardiologist, when he informed us, her heart had gotten 10% bigger from the adult sized-heart she already had. Out of all the options she had, we decided for the Ross-procedure. She said right away: "I am tired of worrying about, she wanted to be fit for "Fall-Basketball". Her every dream was to make the basketball team at the Junior High School. Her older sister cried, I was scared. I had to agree with her. On August 16, we had two carloads full of friends and family, as we headed to the hospital for her surgery. She was happy, waving at complete strangers, goofing off in the car. She even put it on our answering machine, when her surgery was. She liked going to Children's Mercy Hospital. She said she felt safe there. Her surgeon was one of the best in the midwest; he later told me he hasn't lost a patient in 10 years. We did all the pre-op tests. I told Katie I would be waiting for her, to see her after surgery.That was the last time I got to talk to my little angel! She never recovered. Her heart couldn't take the strain.
Looking back now, I am so glad I let her do everything she got to do. I miss her so, every day, and I am waiting to see her again. Her sister feels she lost half of herself, they were always so close. I wonder why, it is hard to understand and impossible to make sense out of it. Katie was just blooming. She was so happy!
You can email: Renate Hofmann [email protected]
anniversary date 08-16-99
date of post 10-09-99
Renate, 34, remembering Katie.