Saige Carpenter is just 4 years old but has already had 2 open-heart surgeries, with another scheduled in June. But this spunky patient of pediatric cardiologist Dr. Chandrakant Patel doesn’t let her heart defect keep her from making the most out of life.
“She’s a social butterfly,” said her mother, Jobeth Carpenter. “She’s excited when she goes to see Dr. Patel.” She added Saige, who says she’d like to be a heart doctor or veterinarian, loves to wear her kid-sized scrubs or lab coat when she has an appointment.
Saige, who lives with her parents and 8-year-old sister Adeline in Orrville, was born at Wooster Hospital at 39 weeks gestation. The next day, after it was determined that she had a heart defect called pulmonary atresia, Saige was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital and saw Dr. Patel for the first time.
“A valve never opened on the right side of her heart,” Jobeth said. “They ended up using a heart catheter to see if they could go in and open the valve, but pressure in the right ventricle was too high. If they opened the valve, it could have led to cardiac arrest.”
The solution would be for Saige to have 3 surgeries. She had the first when she was just 17 days old and the second at 6 months.
She’s scheduled for her third on June 21. Her family is hopeful that the third surgery will be the last but there is a chance that Saige may someday need additional procedures, her mother said.
Jobeth said Saige does get winded easily but is otherwise full of energy and a pretty typical preschooler.
“You would never know she had a surgery unless you see her scar or that she gets winded really quickly,” she said. “She does not stop.”
Jobeth and her husband, Michael, make sure that Saige is aware of her health issues. She faces them bravely, her mom said.
“She’ll say she’s scared of shots but then she’ll say ‘I’m a strong girl; Nothing hurts me,’” Jobeth said. “She’s a little fighter and warrior.”