October 8, 2004

Former ‘blue baby’ ready for Heart Walk

Featured Image

Ellie Moore, 5, the Red Cap Pediatric Survivor in the Sunday, Oct. 10 Heart Walk, enjoys numerous activities, including horseback riding with Shotgun.
photo by Dana Johnson

Former ‘blue baby’ ready for Heart Walk

Ellie Moore was 4 days old when she experienced her first challenge in life — open-heart surgery.

Born with transposition of her aorta and pulmonary arteries, limited oxygen was able to mix with her blood and Ellie was known as a blue baby. Because of her condition, her blood was not normally oxygenated, resulting in her blue color at birth.

An eight-hour surgery at VUMC to repair the “plumbing” of her heart was successful, but complications arose, requiring surgeons to leave her “open” for several days. She also required repair for a clot in her superior vena cava several days after her first operation. The risky procedure saved her life.

“After the second surgery she was given only a 25 percent chance to live,” said her father, Rusty Moore. “It was such a hard time for us because we knew the second surgery was an emergency situation. She has done remarkably well since.

“We know that if she had been born 20 years ago, there was no surgery to correct this. It is the research and development that has allowed physicians the know-how to fix these types of defects.”

Moore said his daughter, now 5, notices her scar, but doesn’t ask a lot of questions about it. She is too busy with preschool, tennis, soccer, ballet, horseback riding, swimming, playing with friends and a multitude of other activities.

On Sunday Oct. 10, Ellie will be the red cap pediatric survivor during the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk, held at Vanderbilt. Her family — dad, mom, Beth, and big brother Roe, all first time walkers — will join her.

“The day Ellie was born, we went to the hospital ready to have a baby,” said her mother Beth. “It was a planned C-section. We didn’t even know the sex of the baby. We were up the night before searching for boy names. We already knew what the name would be if it was a girl —Elizabeth Beasley Moore. She is the fourth Elizabeth in the family.

“Since she was born, we have truly been blessed to have Vanderbilt in our lives,” Beth Moore said. “The people there have always been over-the-top wonderful to us. They just wrap their arms around you and take care of you. We are blessed because without Vanderbilt and the AHA, we wouldn’t have Ellie.”

Ellie came home one month after she was born, weighing less than 5 pounds and taking 16 doses of medications daily. By the time she reached 6 months old, the Moores could see an improvement.

Transposition of the great arteries is the fifth most common heart defect in children, according to Karla Christian, M.D., associate professor of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery.

“Congenital heart disease is slightly less than 1 percent of all live births,” she said. “We repair six to 10 children with transposition per year. Hopefully, it’s a one-time operation and children typically lead a normal, active life.”

Although the Moores are first-timers at the Heart Walk, they are not new to helping raise awareness and money for the AHA. But they admit there are some things you learn from experience.

“We have been huge Heart Gala supporters long before Ellie was born,” said Rusty Moore, past president of Heart Gala board. “And even though we have been involved in various events, we did not know you could perform open-heart surgery on a newborn. It was just miraculous.

“A lot of times you give money to various organizations and during benefits and you wonder how it helps,” he said. “But now we know. Now we see it.”