Former News 12 6 and 11 o'clock anchor Laurie Ott spent years anchoring the news and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network...but she never imagined she would be one of the ones who needed it.
"You never know when you're going to need this place, but we are so fortunate that it's here," Laurie said.
Laurie's daughter Casey's life did not get off to a typical start. Laurie remembers the day she learned something was wrong.
"Well, it was actually my OBGYN on the last appointment before she was due who said something on the heart rhythm didn't sound right. It just sounded funny."
She' s talking about Dr, Teresa Christie.
"On that last appointment, when I was listening for the baby's heartbeat, it just sounded very unusual," said Laurie's OBGYN, Dr. Teresa Christie. "Very, very irregular. Not in the usual range that we usually hear, which is between 120 and 160."
Here's the way Laurie described it in a story she did after Casey was born:
"A sonogram here revealed what our little girl's heart was doing. On the screen we could see the top 2 chambers of her heart beating twice as fast as the bottom two."
It was atrial flutter. The heart was not beating in sync. It was working against itself.
"The top two chambers were beating much much faster than the bottom chambers," said Dr. Christie
Doctors know it when they see it on a sonogram, and they know it when they hear it.
This is how Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. William Lutin describes it: "Noticing the difference between 150 and 200 is important. It's the difference between tsh-tsh-tsh and sh-sh-sh."
The difference may sound slight to most of us, but it can be the difference between life and death for a newborn.
"I figured since you were 39 weeks, don't mess around, do the right thing and get the baby out and let them give her medicine and slow the heart rate down like that," said Dr. Lutin.
Laurie was hoping for a natural childbirth. But all that changed, and they wheeled her off for a C-section.
"If you have a child that's in distress, you don't want to add the extra stress of labor, because then the baby could have brain damage," says Dr. Janet Larson, a High Risk Specialist.
Baby Casey made it through all of this just fine except for her heart. She became a pediatric cardiology patient that day.
"We know it can be serious. It can can cause heart failure in little babies, so it's the kind you need to treat," said Dr. Lutin
Dr. Lutin put Casey on a medicine that made the heart beat slower and stronger. It worked. And she was better overnight.
"It pumps my blood, it keeps me going," Casey told us. These days she knows a lot more about her heart than most ten-year-olds do. But you'd never know she's a heart patient at the Children's Medical Center.
"I like to swim, I like to play volleyball, I like to run around," Casey said.
Basically all the things a typical ten-year-old likes to do.
Casey still comes back to the Children's Medical Center for yearly check-ups. That's a decade of visits with Dr. Lutin. Plenty of time to figure him out.
"This is how it goes," Casey informed us. "He always walks in (with a) cool tie or funny tie and a very good knock-knock joke."
"Cool ties," she went on. "And they never have to match."
"You mean with what he's wearing?" we asked.
"Yes, one time he's wearing crayon ties the other he's wearing flowers," she said.
"So what would you say to people who have never given a dime to a children's hospital?" we asked Laurie.
"Well, we had a lot of those conversations," she replied, "because during the telethon you're reaching out to people who always think, 'It'll never happen to me,' 'I'll never need that place,' or 'I don't know anybody who's ever needed that place'...and what I would say is: you never know."
Casey hopes you'll give, too.
"I would love for them to keep going with what they're doing, and I just think if they keep it going, so many more lives can be saved," she said.