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| March 5, 2015

When they signed their daughter, Lexxie, up for the free well-child screenings being offered at her elementary school through Healthe Kids Screenings, parents Andrew and Sara had no idea that it would potentially change her life.

During the assessments, nurses and other screeners check each child’s height, weight, temperature, BMI, vital signs, hearing and vision to make sure they are as healthy as they can be, and thus are able to learn to the best of their ability. Children also receive head-to-toe assessments so clinicians can identify potential health issues and make appropriate referrals for follow-up care.

Andrew and Sara didn’t really have many expectations when it came to the screenings. After all, Lexxie had received check-ups in the past and no health issues had ever been found. But the convenience of having a free assessment available at their daughter’s school was appealing, so they went ahead and registered her for Healthe Kids.

When it came time for her screening, Lexxie passed with flying colors—until she received her head-to-toe assessment.

“When Lexxie was screened at the head-to-toe station, it was discovered that she had a heart murmur,” recalled Tabetha, a Registered Nurse and Program Manager for Healthe Kids. “When a heart murmur is heard, it is concerning because initially we don’t know if it is an innocent murmur or a pathological one that requires medical intervention. Lexxie was referred to follow up with her primary care physician for further evaluation.”

When they received the notice from Health Kids that Lexxie had a heart murmur, Andrew and Sara wasted no time. They made an appointment for Lexxie to visit the family physician, who confirmed the murmur and referred Lexxie to a local pediatric hospital for further testing. An echocardiogram and transesophageal echocardiogram found an Atrial Septal Defect—a hole close to the size of a dime in her heart.

Lexxie needed open heart surgery to resolve the issue. During the almost 5-hour procedure, surgeons repaired the hole between her left and right atrium. They also had to reposition Lexxie’s pulmonary vein, since it was found to be positioned on the wrong side of her heart.

Lexxie recovered quickly and easily from her surgery, and spent a mere four days in the hospital. She only took pain medication twice after she returned home and required only one aspirin daily for a short time. Originally concerned about the appearance of the scar on her chest, Lexxie now takes pride in her “exclamation point.” Both her family and doctors agree she is doing amazingly well.

Her parents, in particular, are incredibly grateful to Healthe Kids.

“If it wasn’t for Healthe Kids, we never would have known about Lexxie’s heart condition,” said Andrew. “We tell other parents all of the time to sign up for Healthe Kids and if they don’t find anything, that’s great, but if they do find something, make sure to get it checked out. Our daughter had received check-ups before and no one ever told us she had a heart murmur.”

Sara agreed. “Thank you for saving my daughter’s life. If you hadn’t caught the murmur, she could have died in a sporting event or during puberty!”

A heart murmur is a swishing sound that blood makes as it moves through the heart. Many children have a heart murmur at some time in their life. These murmurs come and go during childhood and do not affect the child’s health. As the child gets older, the murmur can go away on its own. These murmurs are called “innocent” or “functional” murmurs. Sometimes, as in Lexxie’s case, a heart murmur is a sign of a problem in the heart.

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