Laney Light has been a fighter since day one. While still in her mother’s womb, Laney was diagnosed with what was thought to be a double-outlet right ventricle with ventricular septal defect, a rare congenital heart condition. Laney’s mother, LeAnn Light, was referred to a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where doctors determined Laney actually suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart.
“At that point, when we learned the correct diagnosis, it was a whole new ballgame,” LeAnn said. “But even then, doctors didn’t know for sure and had to just wait for her to be born to give a final diagnosis.”
Laney was born at 38 weeks, a planned induction at UAB that included a thorough treatment plan carried out immediately after birth. “I got to hold her for just a couple of minutes and then they took her away to get her stabilized and then transported over to Children’s of Alabama,” LeAnn said. “While that was hard, it was a plan her doctor, [Children’s pediatric cardiologist Waldemar F. Carlo, M.D.], had talked to us about prior to birth. He made sure we knew and understood everything that was needed to best take care of Laney.”
Laney was put on a ventilator, sedated at UAB and then transferred to Children’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. The next day, she endured her first heart catheterization, which showed pressure buildup in her left ventricle. To relieve that pressure, Children’s pediatric cardiologist Mark Law, M.D., put a hole in Laney’s atrial septum. A few days later Laney, underwent the Norwood procedure – typically the first of three surgeries for those with her condition. “[Children’s pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Robert Dabal, M.D.], who performed the Norwood procedure, was really surprised by how well she was doing the following day,” LeAnn said. “She was really atypical because usually patients who undergo that procedure require at least four weeks in the hospital afterwards, but she did so great she went home in about half that time.”
Laney was given a G-tube for nourishment, discharged home and has thrived ever since – spending time with her family, hitting milestones like rolling over and sitting up, and growing and playing like any other little one. She’s doing so well, in fact, she is scheduled to have her Norwood procedure reversed. “Her left ventricle has actually grown and the pressure shows that it can support her body,” LeAnn said. “Doctors believe that after the reversal she’ll have a normal heart.”
While Laney has certainly been atypical for a hypoplastic left heart syndrome patient, “God obviously had a different plan for her,” LeAnn said, adding her family is grateful for the care she received and continues to receive at Children’s. “The doctors, nurses and other staff are wonderful,” LeAnn said. “From the security guards to the people at the front desk to the cleaning crew, I just can’t say enough. There is so much love and care we get from everyone at Children’s, and there is so much support behind everything they do. It’s a great place, and we’ve been truly blessed.”