GREENFIELD — Like most new babies, Mya McHenry is the light of her family’s life. The 1-year-old teetered around her grandmother’s house last week, still learning to balance on those wobbly baby legs.
She looks just like any other toddler, learning to walk and talk with a big, toothy smile.
But there was a time when these things – such normal rites of passage for most young families – seemed out of reach for Mya.
Mya was born with a congenital heart defect called Double Inlet Left Ventricle, meaning she has just one working chamber in her heart to pump blood, instead of the normal two. Both of Mya’s atriums were pumping blood into her left ventricle, mixing oxygen-rich red blood and oxygen-poor blue blood, which the heart normally keeps separate. From there, the mixture was being pumped into both her body and her lungs, resulting in low oxygen levels.
The condition is rare, occurring in about five of every 100,000 babies. But what’s more is that Mya wasn’t diagnosed until she was a month old. Somehow, doctors failed to notice the missing right ventricle in ultrasounds, at birth and during regular checkups during the first four weeks of her life.
And what a first four weeks those were.