At Courtney’s 20-week ultrasound, she and her husband Travis learned they were having a girl. They also found out their baby had a large hole in her heart (ventricular septal defect). That’s when the Alberta Children’s Hospital cardiology team first became part of their lives. Dr. Fruitman told them the baby would require heart surgery, likely when she was about six months old.

Courtney went into labour at 30 weeks and baby Everly was delivered by emergency C-section, weighing just under 3 lbs. Dr. Meyers from the Children’s, who became Everly’s cardiologist, looked at the echocardiogram and determined the right side of this baby’s heart was overworking. Everly was transferred to the Edwards Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital where the team determined she had not one, but three holes in her heart, and would need surgery sooner than originally thought. However, born more than two months early, Everly was too tiny to undergo the operation.

A multidisciplinary team including cardiologists, other physicians, nurses and dieticians worked together to help Everly grow bigger and stronger as quickly as possible. It was a complex and careful process, as Everly was in heart failure and was burning most of her energy just to breathe. It was hard for her to grow when she was struggling just to survive. But the team worked diligently and celebrated every small gain alongside Courtney and Travis. After weeks of intensive care, Everly hit the 2 kg mark (4.4 lbs.) and was officially a candidate for surgery.  She was transferred to Edmonton, where she underwent open heart surgery the day before her due date.

The surgery to patch the holes in her heart was a success and Everly returned to the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Members from her team in the two months leading up to surgery all came by to visit, gushing with excitement and relief that Everly was doing well and expressing how worried they had been for her.

This time last year, Everly was in the NICU here at the hospital. These days, she’s home with her family and making great gains. While she has another heart surgery ahead of her, Courtney and Travis are so proud of how far their daughter has come. “Our lives are forever changed from this experience,” says Courtney. “We have our little girl with us today and the Children’s is why. We owe so much to them and are so thankful.”

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