Update on Killian, a heart warrior

Heart Warrior Killian – Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

Killian is a typical four-year old. He loves trains, dogs, spending time in home improvement stores, and mechanics of all kinds. At four years old he is his parents’ pride and joy. Killian is also a survivor with a major open-heart operation for each of his tender years. Each surgery has been to address a congenital heart defect he was born with.
At birth Killian’s chances of survival looked slim. He had congenital heart disease. Specifically, Killian had severe aortic stenosis, an enlarged left atrium, mitral stenosis, and mitral regurgitation that bordered on severe. But Killian lived up to his name, the Americanized version of Cillian, which means warrior, surviving an emergency septostomy (a surgical creation of an opening in a septum).
Killian’s mom, Melissa Nail, describes how her newborn responded to that first surgery. “He fought through his first recovery and was given strength to survive until he was stabilized—my little warrior.”

Update on Killian

This week is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week and Melissa updates us on Killian’s progress.  “Killian’s last procedure, a valve replacement and pacemaker implantation, was over the Christmas  holiday last year. We celebrated quietly in the hospital family housing as he recovered. Since then, he’s the strongest he’s ever been, and was able to start school in the Fall.”

Supporting the families affected by congenital heart defects in Tucson

congenital heart defect support in tucson organizationMelissa and fellow Tucson heart mom, Stacy Nietupski, created nonprofit CHD Families of Tucson, and in the past year have been able to financially assist several families as well as provide an active online community for CHD survivors.
This Valentine’s Day Stacy and Melissa, on behalf of CHD Families of Tucson, will be serving heart-shaped pizza to inpatient families at TMC for Children. This is a way to celebrate the hope they both have for all these children.

Both Stacy and Melissa serve on Tucson Medical Center’s Patient Family Advisory Council for Women and Children, where “We have the opportunity to use our familiarization of inpatient life to enhance the patient experience. We do this not only for our heart families who are near and dear to us, but for all families who choose to trust TMC with their littles.”

Our thanks to both Melissa and Stacy for their ongoing work in our community and at our hospital.