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WITH AN OPEN HEART

Zaylei Adams has three holes in her heart, and one strong hold on everyone else’s . . .

Telford resident Misty Adams knew something was off when, after 35 weeks of pregnancy, her belly measurements just weren’t adding up.
After a couple weeks of getting reassurances from doctors that everything was probably fine, Adams demanded an ultrasound.
She was 38 weeks pregnant.
“The doctor said, ‘Fine, I’ll do it to give you some peace of mind,’” Adams recalled.
But the results were anything but peaceful.
“(The baby) had stopped growing at 35 weeks, but the doctors had missed it,” Adams said. “She was in the third percentile for weight and I had no amniotic fluid left.”
Adams was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section. On Dec. 27, 2012, Zaylei Jade Adams was born weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
Adams wouldn’t get to lay eyes on her newborn daughter for two days.
“They took her away immediately,” Adams said. “I didn’t know anything.”
Medical staff first told Adams’ husband the news. In addition to having Down Syndrome, the little girl had three holes in her heart. Neither diagnosis had been detected prior to Zaylei’s arrival.
She was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit at a nearby hospital, leaving her mother behind, unable to do anything but worry.
After learning about her daughter’s conditions, Adams said her only concern was little Zaylei’s heart.
“The Down Syndrome, that’s nothing to me,” she said. “If we get this heart fixed, I could care less.”
Now, at 2 1/2 months old and just 7.4 pounds, Zaylei is awaiting open heart surgery to fix the three holes, the largest of which measures 10 millimeters, in her tiny heart.
“She’s in complete congestive heart failure now,” Adams said. “But we have to get some weight on her before she can have surgery.”
Zaylei eats through a feeding tube, undergoes physical therapy twice a week and is about to start speech therapy. She must sleep on an angle so she doesn’t aspirate. She has appointments at one doctor or another nearly every day, Adams said.
“Even just the little things make you worry,” Adams said. “She struggles just to sneeze.”
Zaylei will likely undergo the open heart surgery within the next three to six weeks.
“This should be our only heart surgery,” Adams said. “We should be able to take on the world when we get this stinkin’ heart fixed.”
Adams partially credits the Down Syndrome with saving Zaylei’s life when she was born. “Congenital heart defects are common with Down Syndrome,”she explained. “That’s why they checked her heart in the first place.”
Adams said she can’t help but think it is all a part of God’s plan.
“He chose us for a reason,” she said. “It has already changed me for the better.”
Adams has spent and continues to spend a significant amount of time trying to find assistance and services for Zaylei and the growing number of medical bills piling up.
Adams left her job to care for Zaylei, and although the family is now down to one income, it is not considered low enough to be eligible for many programs. That’s frustrating to Adams, who says her husband’s salary is hardly enough to live on without all the medical bills.
The couple also have a 2-year-old daughter, Addilyn.
Despite the challenges in getting assistance from the state and other agencies, Adams said she is thankful for all the help she receives from those who are closest to her.
“I could not have made it through this situation, no way, without all our family and friends,” she said, tearing up. “Just the love and support we’ve gotten, it’s amazing.”
An account has been set up to help pay for Zaylei’s medical bills. You can bring your donation to the Capital Bank branches in Jonesborough, Johnson City or Greeneville.