Cardiology

The heart of a fighter: Jules’ story

The heart of a fighter: Jules’ story

February is American Heart Month, and February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week. This month, Children’s Hospital is bringing awareness to the nearly 40,000 babies born with CHDs every year in the United States. Babies like Jules Tanksley.

Before Jules was even born, her mother KerriBeth and her father Jamie knew she would be a fighter. When KerriBeth was just 23 weeks pregnant with little Jules, it was confirmed by her doctors that Jules’ little heart had not developed enough. While still growing in her mother’s womb, Jules was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which meant that the left side of her heart never fully developed.

In October of 2018, Jules came into this world fighting for her life. Small and fragile at only six days old, the Tanksleys brought their only daughter to the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans for her first surgery. For 10 long hours, Children’s Hospital cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Tim Pettitt, and his team of pediatric cardiac experts performed open-heart surgery on baby Jules. It was a time of fear, but it was also a time of faith for Kerribeth and Jamie along with Jules’s big brother, Kayden, as the Children’s Hospital cardiologists worked to save her life.

After the surgery, the Tanksleys spent 38 days in the hospital, as Jules healed and grew strong enough to finally go home for the first time. After a second open-heart surgery, which took 12 hours, Jules still has a road ahead of her as she and her heart continue to grow.

“Children’s Hospital fosters miracles. They pour out love,” said KerriBeth. “We are not fearful but hopeful because of our incredible medical team at Children’s that continues to answer prayers for our superhero.” 

Now, at two years old, Jules always sports an infectious smile as she pridefully shows off the scars of a fighter.

To learn more about the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, our expert pediatric providers, and the spectrum of heart conditions and defects we treat in babies, children, adolescents, and adults, please visit www.chnola.org/heartcenter.