With Heart Defects Corrected, Infant Embraces Life

Liam had three heart defects which impeded blood flow, making his lungs work harder and putting him at risk of further complications.

After a complicated birth in April 2021, Chelsea Allis had recovered and was finally able to bond with her infant son, Liam.

But life became unstable again only two months later when a doctor carrying out a routine examination of Liam detected a possible heart condition. Then, just a day before seeing a cardiologist to learn more about Liam’s heart health, his lips turned blue, scaring Chelsea and her husband, David.

Doctors in upstate New York, where the Allis family lives, determined that Liam had three heart defects that were impeding blood flow, making his lungs work harder and putting him at risk for further complications. He needed surgery. Chelsea and David had to make a difficult decision: choosing a hospital at a time of uncertainty and worry.

Infant Liam Allis hugs a brown teddy bear while resting in a bed at Boston Children's Hospital.
While being treated at Boston Children’s, Liam made a new friend: ‘Hoagie’, named after infant surgeon Dr. David Hoganson.

The family is insured after obtaining the details of the surgery

Liam had an atrial septal defect (ASD), a hole in the heart wall that separates the upper left and right heart chambers. The hole allowed oxygen-rich blood from the left chamber to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right chamber. A separate hole, called a ventricular septal defect (VSD), also allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, in this case between the left and right ventricles of his heart.

He also had mitral valve stenosis – a narrowing of the one-way valve that helps move oxygenated blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle. When the valve is narrow, blood flows back into the left atrium. All three conditions stress the heart and lungs and, if left untreated, could have put Liam at risk of developing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), high blood pressure (pulmonary hypertension) and other heart problems. health.

Liam was originally scheduled to have surgery at a hospital near his home, but Chelsea worried he might need a second procedure, so she turned to the Benderson Family Heart Center at Boston Children’s Hospital for another one. opinion. Shortly after providing information about Liam to the heart center, she received a call from Dr. David Hoganson, a surgeon in the Department of Cardiac Surgery. He explained what type of surgical repair Liam needed and how he and his colleagues would carry out the procedure. For the first time in a long time, Chelsea’s worries eased and she was confident that Liam would receive the treatment she had sought for him. Liam and his family would go to Boston instead.

“Dr. Hoganson explained what he saw in great detail,” she recalls. “He also said we could meet him in person before the operation. It did for me.

Chelsea was also impressed that Dr. Gerald Marx, senior associate cardiologist in the Department of Cardiology, worked with Dr. Hoganson to make Liam’s surgery a priority, moving it from the December schedule to Thanksgiving week.

The Allis family stroll through an apple orchard, subtly posing for a professional photographer.
Left to right: With Liam’s surgery behind him, Parker (left), David and Chelsea Allis (holding Liam when he was younger) can enjoy more moments together, like this one in an apple orchard. (Photo: Danielle Rosalie Photography)

A healthy Liam has a fluffy new friend

“I had heard how difficult it was to entrust your child to surgery,” says Chelsea. “But all the nurses, anesthesiologists and doctors were attentive and assured me that everything would be fine.” Receiving hourly updates on Liam’s surgery from a Patient Liaison also put her and David at ease.

The surgical team repaired a large hole, the VSD, between Liam’s left and right ventricles, and they repaired the ASD. They also removed excess tissue that was obstructing blood flow from the mitral valve; as long as the blood continues to flow properly, the valve will not need to be repaired.

Now back home, Liam – who will soon be celebrating his first birthday – is healthy, has gained weight, says ‘dada’, and enjoys playing with his 8-year-old brother Parker. He also has a new friend: a teddy bear called “Hoagie”. Chelsea and David purchased the stuffed animal from the Boston Children’s Gift Shop and named it after Dr. Hoganson as a token of appreciation for Liam’s good health.

Chelsea, who has fully recovered from the complications she encountered while giving birth to Liam, is glad she trusted her instincts and contacted Boston Children’s. “He was smiling two days after the operation. He found his smile again.

Make an appointment and learn more about the Department of Cardiac Surgery.