Maryland resident Shanelle Ragin was born with a single ventricle in her heart and, when she became pregnant, doctors warned her that going through with the pregnancy meant risking death.
She could have decided to have an abortion, but this courageous mom plowed ahead to give life to her unborn child. So, an expert medical team of about a dozen doctors and nurses at MedStar Washington Hospital Center ensured she pulled through. The new mom delivered a healthy baby boy called Carter two months ago.
‘It’s one thing for half a heart to function for one individual, but now she’s growing a baby inside of her as well,’ Dr. Anitha John, a congenital heart defect specialist at Children’s National Health System, told NBC News about the miracle.
Rejoice with us as you read more about Shanelle and her new baby:
New mom Shanelle Ragin was born with a single ventricle in her heart, a condition that would prevent it from ever properly pumping blood — but her congenital defect was fixed thanks to a life-saving operation called Fontan when she was just a day old.
Her own mother, Terri Ragin, recalled her fear for her daughter. “You’re scared, very scared, and couldn’t believe that they could do surgery on a little person,” Terri Ragin said.
Though Fontan fixed Shanelle’s heart, side effects remained. As a child, she had a tough time breathing just going up a flight of stairs — let alone trying to play with friends or participating in sports. She has to take medication for the rest of her life.
Still, the special operation not only allowed her to live but also to eventually start a family of her own.
Two months ago, she delivered Carter Ragin — though doctors weren’t sure Shanelle and her baby would survive.
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When she became unexpectedly pregnant, doctors were alarmed. They warned her that pregnancy could mean the risk of death.
“It’s one thing for half a heart to function for one individual, but now she’s growing a baby inside of her as well,” said Dr. Anitha John, a congenital heart defect specialist at Children’s National Health System.
“I felt really proud of Shanelle,” Freiss said. “I think in a way, having a baby, a healthy beautiful baby like Carter, is an affirming part that you are a normal woman.”