Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation

Mother of 1-year-old battling congenital heart defect raises $1,000 for treatment

By Molly Grantham

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Twenty-month-old Savannah Shipman went into heart failure at just three weeks old and was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD).

The diagnosis came after her mother had a perfectly healthy pregnancy.

”As a new mom, I’d never heard of CHD,” Amanda said. “I’ve now made it my mission to tell Savvy’s story and spread CHD awareness. We’ve done a lot in the month of February…including dressing Savannah in 28 days of heart outfits, for 28 days of facts.”

Amanda now knows the reality of having a baby with a CHD. But originally, had no idea what “CHD” stood for or any of its implications.

”We knew there was an issue when she would continually vomit all her milk,” Amanda said. “We took her to the doctor thinking she had reflux issues. Our pediatrician immediately admitted us to the hospital, and I thank God for him, because he was the first person to recognize Savvy needed big help.”

After a few days in the hospital, Amanda and her husband learned Savannah had a hole in her heart (a ventricular septal defect). It’s a pretty common heart defect, as far as heart defects go, and a plan was set into place to first see a cardiologist, then get Savannah a little bigger and eating more, and then finally schedule open-heart surgery for her when she hit six months old.

Savannah, however, had different plans. Her tiny heart couldn’t handle the food or a blood transfusion, and she moved forward with that involved surgery only seven weeks after her birth.

”She came out of surgery and a week later, we realized a nerve had been damaged during her surgery,” Amanda said. “It essentially meant the top part of her heart and the bottom part of her heart weren’t talking to one another and her little heart couldn’t find its rhythm again. So, a week after that surgery, she got a permanent pacemaker. Her heart issues also caused a slew of feeding issues, which led to her needing a g-tube. We were told she could have that g-tube for years.”

In what was great news, she was able to get it removed right before her first birthday.

”She continues to surprise us, her parents, and all her doctors,” Amanda said. “She still has a couple parts of her heart we’re keeping an eye on as she grows. And, she’ll have to have her pacemaker replaced every 10 years or so, as the battery runs out.”

Her family’s story is why Amanda cares so much about making sure we all know about CHDs, and take time in February to care about our littlest of warriors born battling.

”We have been taken care of at Levine Children’s Hospital and through the Greg & Kara Olsen HEARTest Yard Foundation better than I could’ve ever imagined,” she said. “Because we’ve gotten such good care, I want to make sure others receive the same.”

This past weekend, Amanda hosted (and created!) an event she called “Burn for Beats.” She works at Burn Boot Camp in Belmont, N.C., and often takes her daughter with her to work. She hosted a special kids camp, with workouts just for kids and kids of all ability levels, and ended up raising over $1,000.

Another family who attends there understands CHDs well and together they wanted to do something to celebrate kids, healthy hearts, and raise money for The HEARTest Yard.