By Elaine Kish
Before he was even born Micah Muller was diagnosed with a heart defect. During an ultrasound, his mother, LaVonne Dougherty, was told the doctors were not able to get a good picture of the baby’s
heart. A fetal echocardiogram confirmed a diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition which affects blood flow to the rest of the body.
Micah had his first surgery at the age of one week. By the time he was five months old, he had undergone three surgical procedures. Surgeries to repair this type of heart defect are performed in three stages. Having an oral aversion and not eating, Micah also underwent numerous feeding tube surgeries. When he was four years old, Dougherty was given the heart-wrenching news that additional heart surgery was not an option and a transplant was the next step.
As Micah’s health declined, in September, 2014, he was admitted to the hospital. In December, Micah asked Santa for a new heart. Doctors felt he would not live through the New Year. Dougherty struggled with the fact that it would take another family’s worst nightmare to allow her son to live. Miraculously, on December 20, she received a call that a heart was available and Micah underwent transplant surgery at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital that day. The little boy who always had blue fingernails and toes immediately turned pink.
Micah is now eight years old and doing well. He continues to take post-transplant medications and has a heart catheterization and biopsy every two months to monitor his condition. Having been tube-fed since birth, he recently completed an 8-week feeding program at Cleveland Clinic and now eats regular food with little restriction. Pepperoni pizza is one of his favorites.
Micah has three older sisters–Cassie, Madeline and Julie. He also has three pets; a dog named Howie, a cat named Phillip and, not to be forgotten, a fish named Darthy. In April, Micah returned to school at Sandy Valley Elementary where he is in second grade. Although he has not been back in school for that long, Micah is looking forward to summer vacation now that he has no physical restrictions other than no contact sports. Doctors feel, however, that Micah will be able to play sports in the future.
You can meet Micah in person at the Heart Walk at Kent State University on September 26, 2015, where he will be the first 2015 Heart Hero and lead the Heart Hero parade. The focus of this year’s effort will be congenital heart defects. Every year 36,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects.
Micah’s mother, LaVonne Dougherty, reminds us, “Sign up to be an organ donor because it does save lives.”