Juliana was born with several congenital heart abnormalities, which will require at least 3 surgeries to correct.
Her heart is in the right side of her chest and the lower chambers of her heart (the ventricles) are “flip flopped”, with the right ventricle being under her left atrium and the left ventricle being under her right atrium. Additionally, her septum (the wall between the right and left chambers) has 2 holes in it. One of these holes is between her atria, and the other between her ventricles. Lastly, Juliana has a condition called “Pulmonary Atresia”, which means that the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs for oxygen, has little or no blood flowing through it.
When John and Mary received Juliana from the orphanage officials in Nanchang, she was very blue in color. We were aware of her condition, but nevertheless we were terrified by her appearance that day. We were uncertain that she would be able to survive the long flight back to the USA. However, the spunk that kept Juliana alive for her first 13 months in China quickly became evident, and that spunk (plus the graciousness of our loving Father, who answered the MANY prayers lifted up in Juliana’s name that fortnight) brought her thru the many miles of travel. When we landed in Chicago on October 8, 2004, Juliana became a citizen of the United States.
Shortly after arriving home, Juliana contracted a GI virus, which quickly dehydrated her. The dehydration resulted in even lower blood oxygen concentrations (as low as 38%!) and landed her in the PICU at the Univ. of Iowa hospital. After receiving fluids, her oxygen saturations returned to her baseline of 60%. Most adults would be gasping for breathe with sats lower than 90%!
Two weeks later, Juliana was back in Iowa City for a heart cath procedure, and on November 5, 2004 she underwent her first heart surgery. The surgeons placed a shunt which increased the flow of blood to her lungs, and also rebuilt her left pulmonary artery. After surgery, her blood oxygen saturations were running in the 80% range, which is what the doctors were expecting. Juliana recovered very quickly. She was off the ventilator and breathing on her own less than 12 hours after the surgery. We had been told beforehand to expect her to be on the vent for 24-48 hours. Again, Juliana’s spunk and our Father in Heaven combined to do “exceeding abundantly more than we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20-21).
In a few years, Juliana will return to Iowa City for another heart surgery. At that time, the holes in her septum will be repaired and a larger shunt will be placed to further increase the blood flow to her lungs.
To see a diagram of Juliana’s surgery plans, click HERE
Juliana’s heart condition