Meet Cassidy in Plainfield Illinois

Updated:Oct 16,2012

Cassidy S KWH ILCassidy is 11 yrs old and in the 5th grade, and she was the top fundraiser at Meadow View School in 2011 raising over $2,000.  Cassidy’s motivation is clear- LOVE! 

Cassidy’s Mom, Nora suffers from heart disease.  Nora learned she had heart disease in January 2009 when a blood clot was discovered during a routine physical.  She was hospitalized the next day and a stent was inserted.

Everything seemed to be going well until Aug. 18th that year when she suffered a serious heart attack known as the “widow maker.”  This caused a great deal of damage to her heart, and Cassidy is aware of how very serious this is so she decided  to communicate with family & friends by sending out emails, contacting everyone she knew through face book, making phone calls, & asking for donations in lieu of birthday and Christmas gifts for “Jump rope for heart”.  

A few weeks after “Jump rope for heart” last year, Nora took a serious turn for the worse. She was admitted to the hospital for an emergency pacemaker and defibrillator surgery because she is at serious risk for sudden death.  This year Cassidy has set her sights even higher and is hoping that she can do her part to help fund some lifesaving research that her Mom will benefit from!

Nora shared that The American Heart Association has been an intrical part of their lives since Cassidy was a baby.  You see, Cassidy is a heart disease survivor herself! 

Her parents were told before she was born that she had a two vessel umbilical cord.  This meant that one vessel was missing and Cassidy was collecting blood around her heart.  Doctors told her parents that once they cut the umbilical cord she would go into cardiac arrest and most likely die.  They were half way right- they cut her cord and she did go into cardiac arrest.  They worked on her tiny 2 pound 12 inch frame for 4 hours before she was revived and put on life support. 

The cardiologist explained that Cassidy’s heart was seriously damaged and he was unsure of her outcome. 

After lots of tests it was determined that Cassidy had mitral valve regurgitation, and needed surgery. 

At 3 days old, surgery was performed to fix it, and once again she went into cardiac arrest. They had to stop that surgery, but eventually a subsequent surgery was able to repair her mitral valve.  Cassidy was put on life support.  Another surgery was performed to repair an atrial septal defect. Once again she went into cardiac arrest, but this time they were able to finish the procedure. Cassidy would remain on life support for the next 12 months.  During that time she would require additional surgery for necrotizing entercolitis to remove part of her bowel. 

At 5 months old her parents were told that she might never come home because every attempt to remove her from life support was unsuccessful.   She weighed only 3.3 lbs at the time, and Nora shared that she had a one sided conversation with her baby girl telling her  that she could take all the time she needed to get well, and her Mom would be with her every step of the way and never give up on her!  

Doctors decided that Cassidy’s only hope was a medication that had been removed from the market- The FDA approved using it for Cassidy on compassionate grounds.  The next few months were up and down.  Cassidy had 10 heart attacks during that year, but doctors finally made the decision that she could go home.  Nora took a crash course in how to change out her tubes and IV's and how to administer her medications. 

Over the next five years Cassidy did suffer 3 more heart attacks, but today she is doing well and does not dwell on the fact that she was never expected to walk or talk, let alone survive.  She was expected to be wheelchair bound and eventually institutionalized.  

She has beaten all the odds thanks to a loving Mom who worked every day with speech, physical, & occupational therapists to make sure Cassidy had a chance at a normal life.  Today Cassidy is a happy, healthy, beautiful, caring, and generous girl who feels it’s her turn to do what she can to help her Mom, and she is hoping to raise even more donations this year in the hopes that her Mom will benefit from AHA funded research!  She is responding to that one sided conversation years ago by letting her Mom know through her actions that she too will be by her Mom’s side every step of the way!

The American Heart Association is proud to have such an amazing “Heart Ambassador” in Cassidy!