Nora Love was only weeks old when she was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect – a hole in the wall between the right and left ventricles of the heart. The diagnosis stunned her parents, Jared and Jeanne Anne, and Jeanne Anne couldn’t help but think about her own medical journey as she prayed for Nora’s successful open heart surgery at Children’s of Alabama.
Jeanne Anne lived with dilated cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle – until she had a heart transplant on New Year’s Eve 1994 at age 12. Dr. James Kirklin of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) performed the transplant. Children’s of Alabama Perfusion Manager Joey Timpa and retired Child Life Specialist Jane Love were also part of Jeanne Anne’s care team.
When Nora had surgery in March 2019, just shy of being 3 months old, Timpa was also her perfusionist and Jane Love had assumed the role of mother-in-law and grandmother. Jeanne Anne is married to Jane’s son. “The minute we knew something was wrong, Jane was on the phone calling [Children’s of Alabama Pediatric Cardiologist] Dr. Frank Pearce. Dr. Pearce was my pediatric cardiologist. It was very surreal.”
Jeanne Anne continued, “Having been part of the heart world growing up and to have walked through it myself, to be at Nora’s side was a very humbling and unique emotional experience. For the first time, I understood what my parents went through. Walking in to see Nora post-surgery and hooked up to all the machines was very emotional, but I also feel like this has bonded Nora and I even more as mother and daughter. We have a shared experience and matching scars. I think that is so special.”
Nora has since grown into a happy and fiercely independent 2-year-old who loves to play with her big brother, Tucker, and family dog, Chloe. Jeanne Anne says Nora is the happiest child she has ever known.
“She’s healthy now, she’s perfect,” Jeanne Anne said. “But every once and again her scar catches my eye and it takes me back to the moment when she was carried away to surgery. It’s been an experience totally orchestrated by God, and from the get-go, the doctors and nurses at Children’s were absolutely wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about our experience.”