YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Herriman Mom Says Early Detection Of Daughter’s Heart Problem Saved Her Life

Feb 11, 2021, 5:15 AM | Updated: Feb 17, 2021, 9:24 am

HERRIMAN, Utah – February is about more than Valentine’s Day for many Utah families. It’s also about awareness of a common and potentially deadly birth defect. Doctors have important advice for all parents expecting a baby.

Tammy Alsup and her daughter Callie, 7, frost heart-shaped cookies and choose candy hearts to top them with in their Herriman home. Choices like these are a luxury for parents with a critically ill child.

Callie and Tammy decorating cookies

“Before, I think I would take my loved ones for granted. But now with Callie, it’s like, we almost didn’t get her,” Alsup said.

You wouldn’t know that anything is wrong with Callie by looking at her. The shy second-grader with blond hair and an inquisitive smile explains it this way: “I have a special heart,” Callie Alsup said.

At 23 weeks gestation, Tammy learned something was terribly wrong with one of her twins.

“It’s kind of ‘deer-in-headlights.’ Like, I don’t know what he’s saying, but it doesn’t sound good,” Tammy Alsup said.

Callie’s tiny heart was broken. She has congenital heart disease, pulmonary atresia with an intact ventricular septum. Basically, there was no connection from her heart to her lungs.

“I’m like, ‘OK, she’s safe in my belly,’” Alsup said. “But from there, it’s gonna be a whole different ballgame.’”

Dr. Nelangi Pinto with University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital said that’s why the anatomy scan halfway through pregnancy is so important.

“Ideally, it’s caught in utero,” said Pinto, who is also the director of Primary Children’s fetal heart program. “They’re counting fingers or counting toes, they’re looking at kidneys are looking at the brain, and really important screening views of the heart to ensure that we’re caring for their fetus,” she said.

Heart defects are the most common birth defect and the most lethal. One in 100 children in the U.S. is born with one each year. In Utah, 40-45% are caught before birth, which is about the national average, according to Pinto. But doctors say we can do better, and Pinto encourages parents to ask questions.

“‘Were you able to see all the things you need to see in the baby, you know, specific hardware? Were you able to see all parts of the heart you’re supposed to see?’ Just asking those questions, and I think being aware goes a long way,” she said.

Callie’s first surgery was days after she was born. “It was a pretty traumatic experience,” Alsup said. Seven more followed. “She’s just gone through so much,” she said.

For a girl with a broken heart, Callie’s is incredibly whole. “There’s just something about her that’s extra special. She just lights up the room (for) anybody that meets her,” Alsup said.

Tammy Alsup volunteers for Intermountain Healing Hearts, a support group for families with children who have congenital heart defects.

Doctors at Intermountain Healthcare are studying ways to increase early diagnosis of congenital heart defects.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

...
Ayanna Likens

Three healthy back-to-school lunches using the same ingredients

Chef Christopher Delissio with Intermountain shares three healthy lunches to put in your kid’s school lunch box, all using the same ingredients.
4 days ago
Dr. Randa Tao is the lead researcher on the study at the Huntsman Cancer Institute....
Jed Boal

Researchers find patients with specific cancer at higher risk for mental health issues

New research out of Huntsman Cancer Institute reveals that Hodgkin lymphoma patients and survivors are more likely to suffer from mental health and substance abuse disorders than the general population.
6 days ago
5-year-old Elodie gets immunized before she begins kindergarten. (KSL TV)...
Ayanna Likens

Utah doctor talks about how important vaccinations are for kids heading back to school

School is just around the corner and if you have kids entering kindergarten or seventh grade, that means it’s time to get them immunized.
12 days ago
Hillary Ramone's son Parker stops for a water break while at the park....
Ayanna Likens

Proper hydration is about more than just drinking water

Intermountain doctors share tips on how to keep you and your kids hydrated in Utah’s high heat.
18 days ago
When the UV Index is seven or higher you are at a higher risk for skin cancer. Use sunscreen or con...
Ayanna Likens

Staying safe in the sun: Don’t forget to check the UV Index

Utah has the highest rate of melanoma in the nation with 42 cases per 100,000 people, double the national average. That’s why doctors at Intermountain Medical Center said you need to protect yourself when headed outside.
26 days ago
Dynna Farr, athletic trainer at Intermountain Healthcare for Wasatch High School, talks with 17-yea...
Keri Wilcox

Proper concussion protocol key to recovery for young athletes

Of all the sports injuries high school athletes can encounter — one of the most serious can be concussion. A concussion care plan can help them fully heal and safely get them back in the game.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Herriman Mom Says Early Detection Of Daughter’s Heart Problem Saved Her Life