Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Hello, my name is Samantha Lynn Davis, I am 31 years old from Huntington, WV.
I was born with 4 CHDs, which include. VSD, Pulmonary Stenosis, Transposition of the great vessels and Coarctation of the Aorta. I was born on Dec. 8,1987 in Cabell Huntington Hospital to the parents Fred and Becki Davis.
My mom is a nurse and my dad is a funeral director. When my mom first saw me she noticed I was “blue” but told herself, “Becki- she is fine, you are a new mom” well, I wasn’t... about 45 minutes later my dad was coming down the hall and saw the pediatrician ask the nurse “who’s baby is this, and where are you taking her” they said the wellborn nursery, and he said “No take her to the NICU and get o2 on her.” My dad overheard and knew something was wrong. Later they found out how sick their baby girl was.
I was transported to WVU Children’s Hospital in Morgantown, WV the following day with my parents right behind the ambulance; that is where I had my first 6 surgeries. I had my first heart cath when I was two days old. At that time the doctors discovered I had 3 more defects in my heart. During the cath the doctors made another hole in the upper chambers of my heart so that the blue and red blood could mix. This was done to give me more oxygen. Needless to say, no one was even sure if I would make it out of the hospital.
The next day, I had my first open heart surgery. They fixed my narrowed aortic arch by putting in a small Dacron tube to allow blood to flow more easily. At 10 days old I my 2nd surgery. Because of the anatomy of my heart, the left side of my heart was pumping blood back into my lungs causing fluid to build up They did what is called a ‘pulmonary banding’. They put a band around my pulmonary artery to restrict that extra blood flow. This procedure was done to allow me to grow and gain weight to get me stronger for my ‘big’ surgery.
When I was 21 days old, they discharged me from the hospital and my parents were able to take their baby girl home. What a joyous day it was! But boy, were they scared. They had been surrounded by doctors and nurses and they were their “comfort’.
I grew and gained weight and at 10 months, I underwent my 3rd surgery. Once again, we were off to WVU, my Dr. Robert Gustafson did my ‘Arterial Switch’. This was done to correct my aorta and pulmonary artery that was ‘backwards’ at birth. They then told my parents I had a 3% chance of survival. I was the 1st child at WVU Children’s Hospital to have this procedure done. I was in surgery for 13 hours and came out with flying colors due to a wonderful surgeon and hospital team, and a lot of prayers throughout the United States.
Since that time, I have continued to do well. As time has passed, due to scarring from previous surgeries and from just growing, everything has needed upgrading. At age 3 1/2, I had a fourth surgery to reconstruct the narrowed pulmonary artery.
In the summer of my 5th grade year, I once again had my pulmonary artery reconstructed to adult size. They knew that I needed this enlarged because my blood pressure had been on the rise. That was corrected with this surgery, which was surgery #5. Which was my trial and error surgery, before this surgery I didn’t understand the concept of life and death.
My philosophy was, “old people” died, kids didn’t... during my 5th surgery (1998) I was placed in the PICU beside a 3-month-old baby- back then it was an open unit with curtains separating the patients. I remember she would cry, and I would console her by talking to her in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it off the operating table, that is when reality set in that KIDS/ BABIES/ I could die! In December of 1998, a man who was at EVERY SURGERY, baptized me, married my parents, was killed in a car accident; but they expected me 6 months later to undergo ANOTHER surgery?!? No way! Not doing it!! You can’t make it! Well, I was told otherwise, I told them I’d make a deal with them... lol what I didn’t realize was it was happening deal or no deal.
In the summer of 1999, the summer before 6th grade, I underwent surgery #6.
I went in awake, I told Dr. Rosen I wanted to be awake when they took me back, and I drifted off to sleep to Brittney Spears, “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. This surgery they reconstructed the aortic jump tube that was fixed when I was 3 days old. It was also enlarged to an adult size tube.
My last (and most recent surgery) was performed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio by Dr. Patrick McConnell.
Surgeries do not get easier, no matter how old you are. My last surgery, I was petrified, because I had a family, I was due to get married, I was scared shitless that I wasn’t going to make it off that table. I had a new doctor and a new team, but by the grace of God I made it.
I am on 5 medications, daily. I am on Aspirin, Torsemide, Lisinopril, Metoprolol and Wellbutrin. In my daily life, I am very busy, I work 32 hours at a hotel, which I have been at for 5 years in July. I help my best friend raise her three kids (Carson -9, Brooklynn- 7 and Harper- 9 months) I love to travel and meet new people! My hobbies include spending time with my family and friends, I feel like I am always on the go - maybe why I am so tired all the time lol. My energy hasn’t always been the best, but over the past few years, I have noticed it to be better than before since my last surgery in 2016.
As far as having kids go, that is a tough one, no I cannot. On February 22, 2015 my world was flipped upside down. As I sat on the phone with my best friend, Whitney waiting to see if those two pink lines would appear or just one. There it was! Within seconds TWO... OMG! TWO lines! I'm pregnant!!!!!!!!!! I immediately called my fiancé, at the time, Jeff and told him and then called made an appointment with my doctor. The next day they confirmed I was 74 days! Heartbeat 161! ️ That was on Monday February 23. The next week I went to a routine checkup with my cardiologist & I had made an appointment with a high-risk OB doctor in Morgantown, WV.
It was on Tuesday March 3,2015 I had gotten squeezed in for an ultrasound, little did I know my world would come crashing down. As I laid on the table looking up at the screen, I saw my baby for the second time, but this time there was silence. There was nothing. I knew. My heart shattered into a gazillion pieces, NOOOOO! This could not be happening to me! Devastated.
I laid there with my mom holding my hand, sobbing. My baby may not be here on earth with me today, but he or she, whatever you may have been, saved my life. I was supposed to be able to look into your eyes and hold you and love you until forever. Instead, here I am, empty handed without you. You were only here for a split second, almost silently, but you left the biggest imprint on my heart. How I would have loved to know if you would have been my handsome prince or my sweet little princess. I do know one thing for sure, you saved my life. Without you sneaking into our lives for the brief time you did, I may not have ever known how sick I was.
I know you are in the arms of Jesus and I will see you soon. There isn't a day you don't cross my mind, I think about you all day everyday it seems like. With each passing day, I wonder, who you would be, who you would look like? Why God chose you, is beyond me, but I know he has a plan and we just must trust Him. I truly believe I was having a girl, and we had picked out Aubrey Grace On November 8, 2017 I decided to have a bilateral tubal ligation, due to my heart defects it would be nearly impossible for me to carry a child to term; without me stroking out or possibly dying while giving birth.
I prayed about it and thought almost 3 years, and I didn’t want to have a child that I wouldn’t be able to take care of because I was either dead or a vegetable due to having a stroke. Since my tubal, I have decided to pursue the foster/adoption process and hoping to get that started this year! My family has been super supportive over the past 31 years. My parents NEVER left my side when I was in the hospital, and still to this day my mom goes to the [cardiology] appointments with me. She’s always said it’s better to have 2 sets of ears to hear than one.
Since my surgeries all have been out of town my dad would come up for the initial surgery and then after I was out of the woods he would head back home, and mom would stay with me. My brother and sister are very familiar with the hospital life and know my CHD’s. I am beyond thankful that my parents educated them and didn’t leave them in the dark about me.
I love everything about my surgeons. Dr. Gus literally saved my life, I was the first Arterial Switch he did at WVU Children’s Hospital. Dr. McConnell postponed my surgery because he was too tired to operate because he had sat up with a patient the night before, and that meant EVERYTHING to my family and I.
Growing up with CHD I feel like I never let it define who I was. I knew I couldn’t take off and run around the yard with my brother and sister as long as they did, and I was okay with that. I never had any limitations from my doctors, just the ones I put on myself, which I now regret. I was always afraid of getting hurt, which when you are 5 days post op and you get released from the hospital and your mom takes you shopping and you trip and fall, luckily to fall on your Lee Middleton baby doll, that literally saves you from busting your chest open in the middle of JC Penney’s .. maybe that’s why I limited myself. Lol
If anyone takes nothing out of my story than one thing, I will be fine with that. I don’t remember my life without having my scars. My parents have NO pictures of me WITHOUT scars on my body. I was 3 days old when I had my first surgery. No, my skin is not blemish free, or scar free, but I AM beautiful.
My scars make me who I am, and they remind me of the pain I went through. Every chest tube that was pulled, every suture that was removed, every sleepless night because I was in too much pain to get comfortable. I am reminded of how my parents never left my side, even after visiting hours were over. I want parents of CHD children or even younger CHD kids to look at me and see that there is hope, hope for today, hope for tomorrow. Hope that one day they can celebrate their 31st birthday, like I did in December. One surgery I was given three percent chance of survival.
Don’t be ashamed of your scar(s), for, without them, we wouldn’t be here today!
I love telling my story, if you are close and want to meet up or just want to talk hit me up on either, Facebook, snapchat or Instagram. I would love to talk!