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Unbelievable Jai’Onni heads to Disney World with a mended heart
May 17, 2024
CHoR heart patient JaiOnni in the Children's Pavilion

    Heart procedure offers quick recovery, minimal scarring

    Jai’Onni Battle loves baby dolls, especially the one she got the day of her heart procedure at CHoR. With her mended heart, the friendly 2-year-old is full of energy these days and keeps her mom running.

    Care for Jai’Onni’s congenital heart disease at CHoR

    Jai’Onni’s primary care doctor noticed a murmur during a routine check-up shortly after birth and suggested she see a cardiologist.

    “I was a nervous wreck. I really was,” said Jai’Onni’s mom, Jai ‘Nisha Smith.

    After taking some time to process the news, Jai’Onni’s parents brought her to CHoR for an appointment with pediatric cardiologist Dr. Andrew Reittinger on February 1, 2024. Dr. Reittinger confirmed a diagnosis of atrial septal defect.

    The diagnosis came with a few pieces of good news, though. 1) It’s one of the most common forms of congenital heart disease. 2) It can be fixed with a minimally-invasive procedure. 3) They had come to the right place. CHoR has an excellent team of specialists in congenital heart disease.

    Watch Jai’Onni’s story

    Minimally-invasive transcatheter closure for atrial septal defect

    Atrial septal defects that aren’t repaired can cause the heart and lungs to work harder and lead to additional, serious health problems, including increased risk for stroke and pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Reittinger collaborated with Dr. Sal Casella, another of our skilled pediatric cardiologists who specializes in cardiac catheterization, to develop a plan of care for Jai’Onni.

    “Jai’Onni was born with an atrial septal defect, a communication – or hole – in the tissue that divides the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria,” said Dr. Casella.

    Dr. Casella explained to Jai’Onni’s parents how he could mend her heart via a procedure called transcatheter closure, with minimal scarring and quick recovery. They took comfort in his knowledge and expertise and scheduled the procedure just two weeks later.

    “We closed the hole in Jai’Onni’s heart by snaking a thin, flexible catheter – or long tube about the width of a piece of linguini – up a vein in her leg and into her heart,” said Dr. Casella. “We went across the hole and introduced a device through that long tube, which plugged the hole. We were then able to release the device and take the catheter out.”

    A stay in the Children’s Tower, and a new home for Jai’Onni’s medical care

    The team woke Jai’Onni up immediately afterward and had her lie flat for about 4 hours. She spent the night in the Children’s Tower.

    “She had her own personal room. It was just me and her in her room. The nurses came in and checked on her. It was quiet, like a little vacation,” added Jai’Nisha. “She walked the halls of the 10th floor waving to everyone she saw. She fit right on in.”

    The recovery from this procedure is very quick. Most kids, including Jai’Onni, go home the next day and are back to a normal lifestyle within a couple days. For Jai’Onni, that meant playing with her baby dolls, making friends at the playground and enjoying plenty of fruit snacks.

    “She’s always been all over the place, but now I can’t keep up with her. When she used to run, you could see and hear that she was struggling, but now…nothing,” Mom said.

    Jai’Nisha was so happy with Jai’Onni’s care – and the ease of the entire process – that she transferred all of Jai’Onni’s and her brother’s medical care to CHoR.

    “Coming here? It was a breeze! It was so easy, and they made me feel very comfortable,” she added. “It was amazing. They really made me feel comfortable with bringing my babies back here. They have a good energy here.”

    Next stop after Jai’Onni’s mended heart – Disney World

    CHoR heart patient Jai'Onni featured in a print adJai’Onni’s prognosis is excellent.

    “Once we’ve done anything to a child’s heart we don’t like to forget about them, so she’ll always have a cardiologist,” said Dr. Casella. “We will continue to follow her with echocardiograms (a test that uses sound waves to create pictures and show blood flow through the heart), but we expect a full recovery with no decrease to her lifespan or long-term complications.”  

    Next up for Jai’Onni and her family is a trip to Disney World, followed by celebrating her 3rd birthday in August.

    Jai’Onni is the latest addition to our CHoR unstoppable kids advertising campaign. Look for her photo around town!

    Learn about all the ways our heart team cares for kids at CHoR.

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