Baby back home after lifesaving heart surgery

The prognosis is good for a toddler born with a hole in her heart, who successfully underwent surgery at Oakland Children's hospital.
December 9, 2013 5:35:38 PM PST
The prognosis is good for a toddler born with a hole in her heart, who successfully underwent surgery at Oakland Children's hospital. The 14-month-old left the hospital Monday more than a week earlier than expected, but her fight for life led to another battle for her parents.

The live-saving open heart surgery Aria Schilling's parents fought so hard for her to have is complete and the 16-month-old toddler is on her way home from Oakland's Children's hospital.

"She just looks amazing and back to her normal self, and we're just very excited to have her home and to be on our way to the holidays, and back together with the rest of our family," said Aria's dad Johan Schilling.

Aria was born with a congenital defect, a narrowing of the pulmonary arteries on one side of her heart. "They were narrowed to the point that we get concerned that the workload on the right pumping chamber is getting too large," explained cardiac surgeon Dr. Olaf Reinhartz.

Aria's cardiologist wanted her to have the surgery at Children's where she had been undergoing treatment, but the Schilling's insurance company, Sacramento-based Western Health Advantage, refused to pay for it -- instead saying the family should explore alternatives at U.C. Davis.

The Schillings appealed to the California Department of Managed Care which last month, ruled in the family's favor. "Glad that we stuck to our guns with fighting it. It was the right thing to do and we ended up with the right surgeon," said Aria's mother, Briggette Schilling.

As the Schillings head home from Children's with a healthy Aria, they have some advice for other parents who may find themselves in a similar situation. "If you really want the best for your child, do what you need to. Research, educate yourself. There are so many avenues for you," Johan said.

Contacted by ABC7 News, a spokesman for Western Health Advantage said the company could not comment because the Schillings had not given them permission to speak about Aria's case.


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