Avery Toole's Gift of Life
The day after Avery Toole was born, an echocardiogram revealed that she had a serious and rare heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Her mother, Cheryl, is a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children's Hospital knew her only chance for survival was immediate open-heart surgery.
Avery needed immediate open-heart surgery at Children's, where her mother, Cheryl Toole, RN, MS, is a nurse manager. The newborn underwent the delicate procedure at just 5 days old, recovering well. Avery's parents were thrilled to bring their baby home, though they knew she had a long road ahead. Treating HLHS requires a series of surgeries. Avery had her second surgery at 6 months, followed by nine other operations, including leaky valve repairs.
By March, 2009, repairs could no longer save Avery's heart—she needed a new one. Doctors placed the 5-year-old on a Berlin Heart, a mechanical device that does the heart's work, while she waited for a donor. Avery spent 54 days on the Berlin Heart, struggling to gain strength for surgery.
Avery's life was saved by the heart that was donated by an amazingly generous family from Texas who had just lost their child in a car accident.