More than 2,000 miles separated Amy Tippets from her nearest family members when she and her husband, Trevor, received difficult news 16 weeks into their third pregnancy.
Their in-utero daughter was diagnosed not only with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), but with a congenital heart defect called AVSD that would require surgery soon after she was born.
The Tippets and their two young daughters had recently relocated from the West Coast to Northeast Ohio where Trevor was pursuing a degree in podiatric medicine. Amy is from Oregon while Trevor is a native of Denver. They moved to the Mahoning Valley for Trevor to start a residency program with a Youngstown ankle and foot care practice.
“Initially when we got the diagnosis and the confirmation, we were like ‘How are we going to do this by ourselves,’” Amy said. “But we had some friends here and they’d all been to Akron Children’s, so we were comforted knowing we were in good hands.”
One of the first physicians the Tippets met after the diagnosis was Dr. Grace Smith, director of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s Heart Center.
“Dr. Smith was really patient, sympathetic and understanding with us,” Amy said. “I feel like she understood a mother’s intuition balanced with medicine.”
Abigail Tippets spent 3 days in Akron Children’s NICU after being born in October 2016, and gained enough weight and strength for open heart surgery by April 2017. Akron Children’s surgeons successfully divided the heart tissue to create a needed valve, and then repaired a hole in Abigail’s heart.
“With no family close by and my husband’s job keeping him away a lot, we always felt supported and comforted by the providers and staff at Akron Children’s,” Amy said. “They always informed us, educated us as to what was going on, and were very kind and reassuring.”
Amy reports that Abby, approaching her first birthday this fall, is now healthy, happy and needs no cardiology follow-ups until a year after the procedure.