Better Today, Healthier Tomorrow: The Stories of Arkansas Children's Hospital
February is Heart Month and a special little girl from Saline County is helping to raise awareness about congenital heart defects. Her journey is part of our new series - Better Today, Healthier Tomorrow: The Stories of Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Tatum Pinney looked like a perfectly healthy newborn, but at four-weeks-old, doctors at Arkansas Children's Hospital told her mother, Christie, Tatum had a congenital heart defect. It would lead to open-heart surgery eight years later.
Christie Pinney explained, “It was a hard recovery but Tatum - she has a light upon her and did amazing. She got out in six days.”
But after going home, there were complications. Tatum collapsed at her grandmother’s house.
“She was not responsive," remembered Christie. “Her heart was not beating and she started to turn blue.”
Christie says, thankfully, she had been trained in CPR at ACH before Tatum could be discharged and she knew exactly what to do. She explained, “It took five rounds of two breaths, 30 compressions to bring that baby back. My mom was praying the whole time.”
Tatum made it to the ER and was quickly opened back up for her second heart surgery. Today, there are no signs that just eight months ago Tatum was so close to dying.
Christie told us, “And you see her now and she's smiling and doing backhand springs and running.”
Tatum said, “I like to play basketball with my brother and I like to jump on the trampoline.” Tatum remembers the thrill of getting to play with the therapy dogs at Children's after surgery but has no memory of the day she collapsed. Christie has filled in the gaps. “It's one of the things that really you want to know,” said Tatum. “I thought it was, like, pretty awesome that my mom saved my life.”
Christie though gives the credit to the doctors at Children's who repaired Tatum’s heart and who will oversee her care for years to come. “We call them family. We love our Children's Hospital family. They're amazing," said Christie.
Tatum doesn't let her heart defect slow her down. In fact, Christie tells us doctors says she is free to play basketball and practice gymnastics. “Dr. Sieb, our cardiologist - he said he's never seen her heart better in the nine years of her life…we have experienced a miracle and it has changed our lives forever. We look at life differently now.”
Tatum will likely need another procedure at some point in her life, but doctors hope with advancements in technology and medicine it will only be a minor one instead of another open-heart surgery.