About Ava

A Heart Like Ava

Ava Mae Lasseter was born at 1:03 a.m. on November 9, 2013 at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia to Brandon and Bre Lasseter. That evening she was transported via helicopter to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Ava was prenatally diagnosed with two Congenital Heart Defects: Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV), and Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Along her journey she was additionally diagnosed with Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR). In addition to her heart defects, Ava was diagnosed with bilateral choanal atresia (both sides of her nasal passages were completely blocked) and intestinal malrotation. 

Ava endured many surgeries and procedures throughout her life including: 

  • November 19, 2013: Hybrid Stage 1 heart surgery (placement of pulmonary artery bands, PDA stent, and ASD stent).
  • November 29, 2013: bilateral choanal atresia repair with stent placement.
  • December 10, 2013: Nasal stent removal.
  • December 18, 2013: Nasal endoscopy and dilation.
  • December 30, 2013: Nasal endoscopy; dilation not needed.
  • January 7, 2014: G-tube placement and Ladd's procedure for intestinal malrotation.
  • January 12, 2014: Emergency surgery for evisceration.
  • January 31, 2014: Nasal endoscopy and dilation.
  • February 20, 2014: G-tube replacement and nasal dilation with stent placement.
  • February 27, 2014: Nasal stent removal.
  • March 5, 2014: Nasal endoscopy, dilation not needed.
  • March 13, 2014: Heart catheterization. 
  • May 19,  2014: Comprehensive Stage 2 open heart surgery. 

After 149 consecutive days in the hospital, Ava was discharged to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati where we lived for six weeks prior to her Stage 2 heart surgery. During this time, Ava developed so much! She began cooing, and smiling, and trying to roll over. She loved taking walks in her stroller and going for car rides. 

Ava's stage two open heart was expected to be very difficult and expected to last 10-14 hours. As the surgery progressed, it became obvious to our surgeon that he would not be able to perform the Glenn (the typical stage 2 surgery) at this time due to poor oxygen saturations in her lungs. The plan changed to a shunt surgery with hopes to be able to do the Glenn a few months down the road. Ava's anomalous pulmonary veins were also even more of an issue than what was expected, and he was not able to repair them during this surgery. As the day drew to an end, Ava's surgery was complete, but she began bleeding heavily. The team worked non-stop to control the bleeding and stabilize her. After 22 hours in the operating room, the bleeding had stopped, they had watched her for 2 hours, Ava was stable on her own, and they were preparing to transfer her to the CICU. Just a few minutes after arriving in the CICU, Ava went into cardiac arrest. She was placed on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation---full cardiac and respiratory life support) in hopes that her heart and lungs would recover within a couple of days. Her body began shutting down. Not only were her heart and lungs not working on their own, but her pancreas and kidneys were also damaged. A CT scan confirmed that her brain had also incurred extensive irreversible damage. On Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. as we held her in our arms, our beautiful Ava passed peacefully from this Earth--her heart was now whole. Before she passed, we promised that we would do great things for her and keep her memory alive. Therefore, A Heart Like Ava, has been formed to do just that.