4-year-old Buckeye Fan Carries a Piece of Maize and Blue in Her Heart
Ohio State alumni find “second home” at University of Michigan affiliated hospital after their daughter’s lifesaving congenital heart surgeries and treatment.
John and Casey Moser “were raised to be die-hard Buckeye fans,” each growing up with families who cheered on the scarlet and gray team.
These childhood alliances grew even stronger after attending Ohio State University– where they met each other and later married.
So as new parents, the OSU alumni couple never expected to grow fond of an institution related to their biggest sports rival – the University of Michigan.
But that’s what happened after their daughter Chloe received lifesaving congenital heart treatment and surgery at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“We will forever be Buckeye fans, but Chloe does bleed a little maize and blue,” Casey says. “When it comes to Chloe and her heart, we trust Michigan. Mott is a special place that saved our daughter’s life many times and it’s become almost like a second home.”
A visit for an ear infection uncovers heart disease
In 2016, on what was supposed to be Casey’s first day back from maternity leave, she noticed that her baby was acting especially fussy.
She took then two-and-a-half-month-old Chloe to the pediatrician for what she guessed was an ear infection.
But her doctor detected something bigger: a heart murmur. That discovery led to further tests suggesting that Chloe had a rare congenital heart disease and would need heart surgery as soon as possible.
Hours later, Casey found herself in an ambulance riding to Mott, with Chloe on a ventilator.
“They told us if we hadn’t taken her in, she probably wouldn’t have made it,” Casey remembers. “It wasn’t something they caught during newborn screening so we thought she was healthy. We were shocked and overwhelmed by all of the medical details doctors were explaining to us. We didn’t know what would happen to her. It was just heartbreaking.”
Chloe was officially diagnosed with Shone's Complex, a combination of heart defects that affect blood flow to and from the left ventricle, or lower left heart chamber.
Four days after being transferred to Mott, she had her first open heart surgery led by Mott pediatric heart surgeon Ming-Sing Si, M.D., who reconstructed a narrowed aorta, the main artery of the body. She spent a total of 16 days recovering at the hospital.
Chloe, who turns five in February, has since had two more surgeries with Si and two heart catheterizations with Mott pediatric heart cardiologist Jeff Zampi, M.D. Her doctors continue to manage her biscupid aortic valve and aortic stenosis – a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that restricts blood flow. Her Toledo cardiologist, Jeffrey Moore, M.D., who monitors her care locally communicates closely with her Mott team.
“We just feel very blessed to have one of the nation’s leading hospitals in pediatric cardiology so close to home and are beyond grateful to her doctors, Dr. Si and Dr. Zampi, as well as the many nurses and other staff who have cared for Chloe during her stays,” Casey says.
“After being thrown into the congenital heart world, we’ve learned so much and feel like an integral part of her medical team,” she adds. “It’s enlightening to know you have such a good support team behind you, but also people who want to include you and make sure your voice is heard.”
A Buckeye with a love for the “Big Bird hospital”
Today, Chloe attends preschool and is known for her love of unicorns, helping on her family’s farm, reading books, doing arts and crafts and spending time with her parents and little brother Connor, 2.
“She has handled everything with a brave fierce heart. Nothing slows her down. Nothing stands in her way. She handles every challenge with fierceness and truly has the heart of a warrior," Casey says.
The Mosers, who operate a grain farm outside Perrysburg, Ohio, still look forward to the big rivalry football game every year, known as “the game,” between the Michigan Wolverines and OSU Buckeyes.
The highly anticipated football match often occurred before the grain farmers’ busy harvest season was over, so they have spent some years listening to the game on the radio in their tractors.
Last year, Chloe wore her Mott “Little Victor” shirt brandishing the block “M” underneath her OSU gear for the big event.
“She was like a walking oxymoron,” Casey jokes.
Rivalry on the football field aside, Chloe enjoys visits to what she calls the “Big Bird hospital” because of the well-recognized Big Bird statue at Mott.
And she’s also giving back to help other Little Victors. Chloe's support group of family and friends, known as "Chloe's Corner" has raised over $1,500 for Mott through a t-shirt fundraiser and has collected donations of stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets to donate to the Mott Child and Family Life team over the past four years.
“We were so grateful for what everyone did for us when we were there, from the doctors and nurses to child life specialists. The level of care and professionalism and emotional support exceeded our expectations. We wanted to do something to support other families,” Casey says.
And as Chloe puts it: “I want to help other kids like me.