Zaidan Pitts
Jefferson County
Feature Story
My name is Marquita Smiley. My son, Zaidan Pitts, had a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Since we learned of his condition prenatally, our family was better able to prepare for Zaidan's arrival. The staff at UAB and Children's of Alabama helped us prepare by introducing our family to several members of the cardiology program and by informing us of what to expect following Zaidan's birth.

On the day that Zaidan was delivered, conditions were pretty intense. Just as I was informed, several physicians and nurses were involved in the delivery to ensure that Zaidan received the attention that he needed. He was immediately placed in UAB'S NICU and hours later he was admitted into the CVICU (Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit) at Children's.

Due to his condition, Zaidan had to undergo open heart surgery almost immediately. His first surgery occurred when he was only three days old. This was the first of three different surgeries Zaidan was expected to have. As one could imagine, my emotions were all over the place. However, there were several supportive hospital staff members alongside my family and I that assured us they'd be available to help with anything that we needed. The physicians that were involved introduced themselves prior to beginning the procedure, and they took the time to explain what the surgery entailed beforehand.

After his initial surgery, the plan was for Zaidan to spend some time recovering in the hospital then be discharged until his next scheduled surgery. Initially, Zaidan was recovering as expected. However, the week following his surgery, he had a heart attack and almost died.

As days passed, Zaidan's condition grew worse. Eventually, I was informed that Zaidan would need a new heart. After completing the evaluation process that's required for a heart transplant, we anxiously waited for Zaidan's new heart.

Throughout the waiting period, Zaidan remained in the CVICU. I recall there being some extremely long days and some very rough nights while waiting at Zaidan's bedside. His heart was so weak that incidents such as having his diaper changed caused him to get so upset that he had major setbacks that nearly ended in his death.

Just weeks after I was given the, "I'm sorry mom, there's nothing more that we can do" speech, we received the call for which we'd been waiting. A new heart was available, and it was believed that Zaidan was the perfect match!

My family and the cardiology team prepared all night for the transplant. Zaidan completed several rounds of testing through the night to ensure that the new heart was the best match for him. After completing the tests, Zaidan was cleared for surgery.

The procedure was an 8 to 12 hour process. The medical team kept me informed of Zaidan's status hourly during surgery.

Prior to delivering Zaidan, heart disease did not directly affect my life. However, I am now a volunteer with the American Heart Association (AHA). One of the most memorable moments of our big day was that Zaidan received his new heart during AHA's annual Heart Walk, which is one of the agency's annual fundraiser events.

I've never experienced a life event of this magnitude, but there was something miraculous about this day that gave me hope for Zaidan's future. Zaidan was 2 months old when he received his transplant. He is now 11 months old! To say that Zaidan has faced a lot throughout his life would be an understatement.

I am truly grateful for the prayers and support of our family members, as well as the support of our extended family...the cardiology team at Children's of Alabama. Due to intense prayers coupled with the medical care that he has received, Zaidan has been given a second chance! With God, all things are possible!