Ava’s story: How a VAD saved my life while awaiting a heart transplant

Ava’s story: How a VAD saved my life while awaiting a heart transplant

A person with red hair

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Photo courtesy of Alice Chatman

In Oct. 2020, life changed unexpectedly for Alice Chatman. Out of the blue, her daughter, Ava – who she describes as a normally healthy child – started developing unusual symptoms. At first, Alice thought it was just a bad case of upset stomach, her symptoms didn’t go away.

“A day after we celebrated Ava’s 12th birthday on Oct. 10, she didn’t feel well,” Alice said. “She couldn’t keep anything down. Once we met with Ava’s TCH pediatrician, he referred us to TCH The Woodlands. This was the day I got an answers. It was Oct. 26, when the ER physician told me Ava was in end-stage heart failure.”

“Everything just hit me all at once,” Alice said. Minutes later, I met with two of Ava’s cardiologists, Drs. Swati Choudhry and Hari Tunuguntla. They, along many others, were supportive and made us feel comfortable.”  Ava was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. On Oct. 29, Dr. Iki Adachi performed Ava’s surgery, the HeartWare® VAD, a battery-operated, pump was implanted into Ava’s heart along with a pacemaker.

“I am so grateful to Texas Children’s for helping find a diagnosis for Ava,” Alice said. “This was the best news I could have received,” Alice said. “We’re looking forward to the day when we find a perfect heart transplant donor match for Ava. Until that day comes, we will remain hopeful.”


Alice Chatman


Post a Comment