Patients Undergo Heart Surgery, Meet Selena Gomez

November 30, 2010

The thought of spending a day shooting a commercial with Selena Gomez would make most young girls giddy. But the opportunity took on even more meaning for Shelby Hedgepeth and Klaire Hicks. The Selena fans both underwent life-saving heart surgery at Children’s — Shelby in Dec. 2007 and Klaire on Oct. 20, only two and a half weeks before heading to Hollywood.

A new heart for Shelby

On Shelby’s 11th birthday, she woke up with a cough. Her mom, Suzanne Dorchester, didn’t think much of it since Shelby had always been the picture of health. But when nothing seemed to help the lingering cough, Dorchester took Shelby to the pediatrician. Within ten days, Shelby’s heart was functioning at less than 10 percent. She was referred to Children’s and received a diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition that enlarges the heart and can lead to heart failure. 

“She was very sick with incredibly poor heart function, ventricular dysrhythmias and pulmonary edema requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation,” said Dr. Kristine Guleserian, surgical director of Pediatric Cardiac Transplantation at Children’s and assistant professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Ventricular dysrhythmias can be fatal within days or weeks — Shelby desperately needed a miracle.

The fifth-grader was admitted and the waiting game for a new heart began. On Christmas morning, a heart became available. Dr. Guleserian performed the transplant and less than four hours later, Shelby was extubated. She left the cardiovascular intensive care unit a day later, and was home in less than a week.

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Shelby, 12, is back to her spunky self and plans on bringing the same joy she received to others.

“After this experience, I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” she said.

Mending Klaire’s heart

Klaire Hicks has always been on the go. The 9-year-old dances, plays volleyball and recently started learning to play the guitar. But in Sept. 2009, an unexpected diagnosis stopped Klaire in her tracks. Klaire’s mom, Wendi, took her to the doctor for a routine visit where a large heart murmur was detected. A pediatric cardiologist at a local hospital diagnosed Klaire with an atrial septal defect and referred her to Children’s.

“Klaire was diagnosed with a slight murmur years ago, but it never bothered her,” Wendi said. “I didn’t think twice about it because Klaire has been my active child, always ready to try something new.”

Dr. Guleserian fixed two holes in Klaire’s heart and she was on her way home three days later.

Since her surgery, Klaire hasn’t missed a beat. She is back at school and can’t wait to ride in the 22nd Capital One Bank Adolphus Children’s Parade. The commercial featuring Selena, Klaire and Shelby will air during the parade’s live coverage on Saturday, Dec. 5, on WFAA-TV. It will also air on more than 350 television stations at various times throughout the holiday season.