Mindy and Ray Lewis’ daughter, Kendall, also known as “Miss K,” was born with VACTERL Association, which occurs in about 1 in 10,000-40,000 babies. VACTERL stands for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies and limb abnormalities. Kendall has all but limb abnormalities.
She’s under the care of multiple pediatric specialties at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, including the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. Her congenital heart defect — tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia – consists of four defects, including a hole between the lower chambers of the heart (ventricular septal defect); an obstruction from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary valve stenosis), or in Kendall’s case, the pulmonary valve did not fully develop; the aorta (blood vessel) lies over the hole in the lower chambers (overriding aorta); and the muscle surrounding the lower right chamber becomes overly thickened (right ventricular hypertrophy).
Kendall, now 3½ years old, has had two open-heart surgeries to get her heart working as normally as possible. Kendall’s health conditions sure don’t slow her down much. She loves the color blue and chooses to eat salads over almost anything else. Prior to her second surgery, Kendall ate salads five days in a row! That’s how much she loves them. Kendall also loves to dance with her big sister and is an accomplished equestrienne already.
“We are thankful for every day we are given,” Mindy says about her daughter. “We try not to sweat the small stuff because there are bigger things out there. Miss K has no limits and for as long as we are able to, we will let her do as she wishes. We try not to hold her back and let her experience life for what it has to offer her.”
Kendall has regular checkups in our pediatric cardiology clinic and loves visiting her favorite doctors, Renata Shih, M.D., and Jennifer Co-Vu, M.D.
“There have been a number of hurdles to overcome the last three years,” Mindy says. “Kendall is who she is today because of the love, support and care we have received at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. We know the road of a heart patient is a long one, but it’s not nearly as long or scary when you have an extended family around like them. We will be forever grateful for everything they have done for Miss K and our family.”