Memphis 32-year-old finds answers with pediatric heart specialists

Feb 05, 2013, 16:15 ET from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital

MEMPHIS, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advances in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery have allowed children born with heart defects to grow into adulthood. A Memphis, Tenn., mom is a testament to the importance of pediatric specialists continuing to care for these adults and their complex hearts.

Ashley Batchelor, 32, was born with Tetralogy of Fallot and had open heart surgery soon after birth. She underwent another operation at age 5 to receive a donor pulmonary valve and then enjoyed a normal childhood despite having to limit physical activity, which caused her to feel light-headed or nauseous. Ashley married, moved to Memphis and delivered a baby, Bailey, in 2007.

Ashley continued to see cardiologists annually for her heart defect. By the time her child was 3, Ashley grew tired and lethargic, but dismissed her symptoms as the result of juggling work and family. After struggling to conceive a second child and still not feeling like herself, Ashley's OB/GYN recommended she see experts at Le Bonheur's Children's Hospital's Heart Institute. Pediatric Cardiologist Ryan Jones, MD, found that one part of her heart was enlarged, and an artery was smaller than normal. A large percentage of the blood being pumped to the lung arteries was regurgitating back into the right ventricle, the pumping chamber for the blood going to the lungs.

"It made sense why I was so tired. And why I couldn't have a second baby," said Ashley. "My heart couldn't handle a pregnancy."

Jones, along with Le Bonheur cardiologists Shyam Sathanandam, MD, and Rush Waller, MD, thought Ashley would be a perfect candidate for the Melody valve — a new device that could help her and eliminate the need for a donor valve. The Melody® valve is a valve harvested from a cow's jugular vein and sewn into a large stent. This valved stent is then delivered through a vein in the leg or neck to the heart and then expanded and implanted with a large angioplasty balloon catheter. It is primarily intended for use in patients who have undergone multiple surgeries that include using donor grafts to connect the right ventricle to the pulmonary arteries. The valve is indicated when these donor grafts or valves fail.

"Ashley was an excellent candidate for the Melody® valve because her donor valve was no longer functioning, her right ventricle was enlarged, she was symptomatic," Waller said. "This procedure prevented her from having to have open heart surgery."

Sathanandam added that the Melody® valve gives patients "trans-catheter replacement of the pulmonary valve that requires no cutting or stitching. The patients are typically discharged home the next day."

Since the procedure, Ashley has been doing great. She does not get short of breath and runs regularly on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes. She says she feels like a new person and is able to balance her life as a mom, a wife and as a pharmacist.

About Le Bonheur Children's Hospital
Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats more than 250,000 children each year in a 255-bed hospital that features state-of-the-art technology and family-friendly resources. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children's Hospital.  Serving as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center, the hospital trains more pediatricians than any other hospital in the state. For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit Follow us on Twitter at or like us at Facebook at  

Hillary Welton
(901) 287-6030

SOURCE Le Bonheur Children's Hospital