Cooper was born on September 5, 2018 as a healthy newborn- so we thought. Unlike most who find out during pregnancy, we found out as we were awaiting discharge from the hospital that Cooper had a Ventricular septal defect. Dr. Hixon was there to help calm our nerves and let us know that if you have a CHD, this is the one you want—most will never need surgery. We spent 11 months and many doctors visits to find that the defect would actually need surgery after all because his growth and health were being affected by it. We were referred to Dr. Gottlieb, Dr. Pettit and their team at CHNOLA to surgically treat Cooper.
The emotional stress of your child being sick and having to go through such a major surgery gets to you, but having the financial and emotional support from Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation was just a pure blessing. It truly took some of the stresses off our minds so we could solely focus on our son and his health.

Dr. Gottlieb and her team performed a very successful open heart surgery to patch up the multiple holes (they found more throughout the process) and ultimately HEAL Cooper from his CHD. He stayed in the CICU and was treated like a little prince at CHNOLA and was released in what felt like record timing to us (just a three night stay total for open heart surgery- how amazing!) In fact, we had a close family friend whose husband had open heart surgery around the same time who used Cooper as an inspiration for his own recovery because he thought, “If a tiny 11 month old baby can do this and be back to his normal self in 3 days, why can’t I?” They were thankful for me sharing Cooper’s journey.

We still routinely follow up with Dr. Hixon, his cardiologist, and Cooper is doing phenomenal- as Dr. Hixon puts it, “he is a totally normal kid now.” He truly is a warrior and as stated above, an inspiration to others as I know all these little heart warriors are! We are truly humbled by our experience throughout this entire journey. We are also forever grateful to all of his physicians, surgeons, nurses, healthcare worker, and LPCF for all of the hard work and support they have provided our son and our family.

-Stephanie Gilliland