Baby's cough leads to discovery of failing heart

When it comes to your children, one North Texas family says it's best to listen to your instincts.
They discovered their baby's cough was something much more serious.

"Nevaeh is a total smiley baby. She loves seeing her own reflection. I was standing in front of the mirror with her," said Marian Ennis, as she looked at her daughter's pictures.

Weighing 9 pounds, 3 ounces, baby Nevaeh Ennis was off to a healthy start.

"She was pretty fiesty when she got here. She was kicking nurses," said Ennis.

Marian and Leelan Ennis live Northeast of Dallas in Royse City. They have two daughters, toddler Marlee and now 6-month-old Nevaeh.

"Some would say we're overprotective, but I feel like our gut instincts have always been right when it comes to our kids," said Marian Ennis.

That proved to be the case on the night of March 19. Nevaeh coughed and it didn't sound right.

"We were laying in bed and looked at each other and said 'that was a really loud, strong cough.' It actually concerned us which sounds a little bit weird." said Marian Ennis.

The next morning, Nevaeh's breathing seemed heavier than normal. Marian took Nevaeh to the pediatrician. They soon learned Nevaeh's heart was failing.

"Her heart was dilated and wasn't squeezing as it should and wasn't moving blood around the body and the body got very sick as a result of that," said David Sutcliffe, Children's Health Pediatric Cardiologist.

Nevaeh has a rare heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyapothy. For the last month, she's been at Childrens Medical Center Dallas. Doctors have her on a Ventricular Assist device to pump blood from her heart to her body.

"We have her on a transplant list and were using this device to keep her safe and stable while she's awaiting a heart transplant," said Dr. Sutcliffe.

It could take months. So, Marian put up pictures in the hospital room to make it feel more like home.

"I miss us all being together. So, it's just nice to see us all together," said Marian Ennis.

Looking back, Nevaeh's parents say there were some warning signs. But, nothing that seemed too serious at the time.

"She liked the ceiling fan on. You wouldn't think the baby liking the ceiling fan was anything, but that was her heart overworking so she was getting hot," said Marian Ennis.

It's why they're sharing their story.

"Just go with your gut instincts for sure. If you feel like something isn't right. Something as little as a cough could be a lot," said Marian Ennis.

It will be a life-long battle for Nevaeh to keep her heart healthy.

The family is raising money to help support Nevaeh through an account with the Children's Organ Transplant Association.

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