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A heart for Raegan: Athens infant awaits transplant – Lifestyles

Posted on Jan 18, 2015 by Rebecca Croomes

Last year, Jessica Morrell carried her second daughter through a normal pregnancy and early in the morning hours of Oct. 22, gave birth to the girl she and husband Brian named Raegan.

Now, as January drags on, the Morrell family is still waiting to take Raegan home.

“We are all very hopeful,” aunt Christie Partridge told The News Courier on Friday. “We know she will come home, it’s just a matter of time.”

Back in October, when baby Raegan was being prepped to leave the hospital, doctors noticed what at first appeared to be a heart murmur. She stayed another night and the next day went to see a pediatric cardiologist in Huntsville. After arriving in Huntsville, the Morrells were quickly sent to Children’s Hospital of Birmingham with the diagnoses of an interrupted aortic arch.

Interrupted aortic arch only occurs in about two out of every 100,000 births, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It happens as a result of the aorta, the large blood vessel on top of the heart, not developing completely. Without a fully operational aorta, blood cannot properly circulate through the body, which could lead to shock, doctors say.

Physicians acted swiftly for Raegan. After an infection cleared, the child underwent open-heart surgery on Nov. 5, where doctors inserted a pacemaker.

On Dec. 30, Raegan was placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing transplant list at 1A status, which, according to Partridge, is a high priority status. An upgraded pacemaker was inserted Jan. 13 to help Raegan’s heart work both chambers, but she is still waiting for a transplant.

“It is very traumatic, it is very stressful for all of us,” Partridge said. “It’s a different scenario.”

The mascot for the effort to bring Raegan home is her older sister, four-year-old Riley, who keeps the mood positive.

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