CSP Team Note: Alisha Nettey’s story was originally posted on Levine Children’s Hospital’s blog. We are so happy to share it with you here!
For Shayla and Ralph Nettey, parenthood was gearing up to be everything they’d ever hoped for. But at the 20-week ultrasound, the first-time parents received a crushing diagnosis: Their unborn daughter Alisha had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a congenital birth defect in which one side of the heart – the side that pumps blood throughout the body – hasn’t fully developed. The only treatment for HLHS is a three-stage surgery, which is especially risky for newborns. But without it, Alisha wouldn’t survive.
The Netteys were referred to Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute and Levine Children’s Hospital by their doctor in Greensboro, who recommended Atrium Health’s heart program above all others in the area.
“We’re fortunate to have this heart center right here in Charlotte, in our own backyard,” says Thomas Maxey, MD, Alisha’s pediatric heart surgeon. “But we’re also fortunate that we’re becoming a referring center for the Southeast, and even further across the nation.”
After touring the facility and meeting Alisha’s care team, the Netteys knew right away that this was the best place for their baby girl.
A successful surgery
Two days after Alisha was born in December, she had her first heart surgery, and it was a success. Just a few weeks later, the infant and her parents were recovering and ready to go home.
From the compassionate nurses who cared for her in the NICU to the care team who gave Alisha her first bow at Christmas, the Netteys have never doubted their little girl’s heart is in the best hands.
“There are so many things we can’t control in this situation, but they helped us have confidence in what they could control,” says Shayla. “They were so patient with us. They were very loving. They treated us like family.”
Beyond their best expectations
Today, baby Alisha is thriving and loves everything from listening to hip-hop to hearing bedtime stories. “Her energy levels are so much better now after the second surgery,” says Shayla. “She’s passed every expectation with flying colors.”
After her third and hopefully final operation in a few years, things will only keep getting better for Alisha. “I expect her to live a normal life,” says Dr. Maxey. “I want her to go to school and drive cars and just live a normal life, well into adulthood.”
For Shayla and Ralph, parenthood is nothing like they expected – if anything, they say it’s better than they expected. And they’re thankful for every day they have with Alisha. “To see her like this, to know that what they did helped us have a life with her – I think it’s rewarding,” says Shayla, smiling down at her cooing daughter. “And I think she agrees.”