Two local families facing challenges with newborns with heart defects


WORLAND – Two of Worland’s newest residents, born last fall, will undergo heart surgeries in 2022.

Julie and Dan Atkinson welcomed their daughter Emma on October 9, who was born at Children’s Hospital in Denver. Emma was born with a serious heart condition known as DORV (Double Outlet Right Ventricle). right ventricle. ”

In addition to the heart defect, Emma was also born with a rare condition called omphalocele. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Omphalocele, also known as exomphalos, is a birth defect of the abdominal (tummy) wall. The infant’s intestines, liver, or other organs stick to the outside of the belly through the navel. The organs are covered with a thin, almost transparent sac, which is hardly ever opened or broken.

Amber and Jeremy Carne welcomed their daughter Ayla on September 10, 2021, born at Cody Regional Hospital, weighing 8 pounds 11 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches at 7:38 a.m.

Ayla was born with Down syndrome and a more common heart problem – ASD (interatrial communication) and VSD (interventricular communication) which, according to Amber, means that Ayla has a hole in her upper and lower heart chambers.


The medical issues Emma was facing came as no surprise to the Atkinson family.

Julie said: “It started at 12 weeks of my pregnancy and snowballed from there. They started to find more stuff throughout the summer. Starting in July, there were bi-weekly visits to Billings.

“It was like every time we had to do an ultrasound we found something else,” Julie said.

Julie said that Emma’s heart is also on the right side and back.

They put the third stint on Emma on Thursday, this one between the two atriums, Julie said, as they work to increase oxygen levels and prevent fluid from building up in her lungs.

Julie said on Friday: “She is recovering well. The surgeon is happy and expects this to keep her stable until it is time for open heart surgery.

When Emma reaches 22 pounds she now weighs 8 pounds, they will start preparing her for her heart surgeries to make any necessary repairs.

At 22 pounds, they’ll also start looking to allow the Atkinsons to return home to Worland while they start planning for heart surgeries.

She said once they got home they would have echocardiograms every two weeks in Billings.

Regarding the heart, Julie said she will face several surgeries.

Julie said of the omphalocele that they let the skin grow on the organs and “it turns into a kind of hernia.” Usually, they wait two to three years before having surgery to put the organs back inside the body. However, she said they might only wait a year for the operation.

Emma is the Atkinsons’ third child as she will soon join siblings Jensen, 6, and Grace, 4 at home.

Atkinson said: “I would like to warmly thank the community. The school district was very supportive in helping me take the first semester off and get back to work.

She said the community has also been very helpful in helping Dan while he remains in Worland to look after their auto parts store, Carquest and their two other children. She said that people were also very helpful in helping the children.

Emma, ​​said Julie, “is doing very well despite everything. She is growing very well. She is recovering very well. They have high hopes for his condition. She’s really tough.

Julie said the name Emma comes because she always loved it, but also really admired a little girl in a daycare center where she worked and Emma, ​​like hers, had a fiery spirit.

As for Dan and Julie, “We’re fine. It has been really stressful, but we take it day by day. We have a lot of people watching us and just having a huge support system helps a lot. “

She added that Kendra Ware is someone she was also able to contact to overcome “some NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) issues and heart disease.” There are a lot of good resources.

“Everyone is ready to help and it helps a lot. “


Amber Carne said Ayla was diagnosed with Down and the two heart defects were a surprise.

“We found out about an hour after her birth that she had Down syndrome, and then not that night, but the next night, while they were giving her vital signs, they found out that her oxygen saturation was very low, “Amber Carne. They wanted to bring her oxygen until the ’90s, but couldn’t do it with regular oxygen, so Ayla was put on CPAC.

“They thought it might be related to her heart, but they weren’t sure,” Amber said. Unable to stabilize the oxygen, Ayla was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver and an echocardiogram revealed ASD and VSD.

“What she has is actually very common. What Jeremy found is that it’s the most common heart disease children are born with. It’s a very common surgery. They do a lot.” , Amber said.

Ayla’s surgery is scheduled for today in Denver.

The family, who returned from Denver on September 17, returned to Denver on Monday.

Amber said Jeremy was able to continue teaching at Basin and that she was home most of the time, working part-time at Gloss, a company she co-owns.

Once Ayla returns home from her surgery, they “will be careful when she returns to daycare so that she does not impact her breasts until she is completely healed.”

Ayla has joined an older brother Avden, who turns 3 this month, at home.

“We didn’t know about Down syndrome or heart disease until she was born. It was all very surprising, very, very upsetting, ”she said.

Amber added that initially, Down’s syndrome had stressed her out until heart disease was diagnosed and consumed her.

She said that after having the operation, they can “kind of get back to a more normal life.

“Down’s syndrome will have its own challenges. It’s going to be a day in and day out, we find out just like you do with any other child. It’s not a life threatening thing, it’s just different, ”Amber said. “This part doesn’t worry us that much and luckily there are a lot of good people in town who have children with Down’s syndrome who will be good resources for us. “

She said they were already working with a speech-language pathologist and physiotherapist at the Children’s Resource Center.

“It was all a big shock, and of course being born when she was, going into cold and flu season, and COVID on top of that, it’s been a lot of isolation for us because we don’t Don’t want to risk her getting sick. ”There were concerns about how she would fight a disease with her heart disease and fear that this would delay any surgery.

Amber said the typical stay is three to five days after this type of heart surgery. All postoperative exams should be able to be done in Billings, she said.

She said cardiologists were happy with Ayla’s growth and weight gain before the operation. Her oxygen has improved where she only needs it at night, Amber said, and that’s mostly as a precaution.

As for the support they received, Amber said, “I have lived here my whole life. I have seen other families in need that people have come together for. I didn’t expect to be at the front desk. It’s amazing what this community is doing.

She said there was a meal train set up for their return home in September with meals for three consecutive weeks. A fundraising account was opened at a local bank and people were bringing gifts for Ayla and her brother Avden.

“I’m super grateful that we live where we live and very grateful for the support people have given us.


The Carnes and Atkinsons are also part of the bowling family, as Jay Richard, president of the Worland Bowling Association, describes.

The bowling family in Worland is quite strong and both families are “very active,” said Richard. The association therefore wanted to show its support to members of their families in difficulty.

This Saturday will be a bowling fundraiser at Hurricane Lanes with all proceeds going to the Atkinson and Carne families. One entitlement entitles you to four matches in the doubles tournament. There are three time slots for bowling, Saturday lunchtime, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

He said there will be 8 pins, no tap dancing, but the scores won’t matter as the only winners on Saturday will be Emma Atkinson and Ayla Carne.

“It’s a way for us as a bowling family to take care of them; do what we can to help one of our own, ”said Richard.

People can call the bowling alley at 347-4044 to reserve a time or stop by Hurricane Lanes on 12th Street to register.

If you are not a bowler and want to help families, you can call Richard at 431-1465, WBA Vice President Randi Newton at 431-6101 or Secretary Jaime Craft at 388-0118.