Annie Grace Sabin was born March 30, 2010 in Utah. Annie has been hospitalized all but two days since her birth in March. She has required numerous open heart surgeries and numerous medical procedures just to keep her alive. With fragile health and surgeons and cardiologists at Primary Children’s Medical Center exhausting all their options, Annie’s case is being referred to Stanford for opinions on how to save Annie’s life.
Annie is one of approximately 40,000 children that will be born this year with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 100 births are affected by some form of heart defect. It is the most common birth defect among newborns and also accounts for the leading cause of birth defect related death in the nation.
The Utah Department of Health states that in Utah, 1 in 159 births are affected by a CHD. Although this is lower than the national average stated by the American Heart Association, The Utah Birth Defect Network claims that “the lower rate in Utah is likely due to the use of more restrictive reporting criteria.”
Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City treats approximately 300 cases of Congenital Heart Defects per year. While some of the heart defects present at birth can be controlled by medications, others will need no medical intervention; however, the more serious heart defects require open heart surgery or heart transplants in order to allow the child to live.
The Utah Birth Defect Network states that the lifetime cost of raising a child with a severe CHD is estimated to be $1.2 billion. The costs of surgery, specialty care, medications, hospitalizations, tests, and procedures add up quickly. Additionally, even after corrective surgery, children with Congenital Heart Defects have an increased risk to illness or death from cardiovascular complications.
While caring for these broken hearts is costly, Annie’s parents would not have it any other way. As they sit in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children’s Medical Center, they are hoping for a medical miracle to save their daughter’s life. Annie’s mom admits that in the condition Annie is in she is “not compatible with life.” Even though some have suggested that Annie may be past the doctor’s help at this point, Annie’s parents push for any medical options to heal her broken heart. As her mom puts it, “we are willing to take the risk involved, as the alternative is to stand by and watch her decline.”