A heart’s new pulse Surgery re-energizes 10-year-old Madison Hanna

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea

Madison Hanna loves to read “Harry Potter” and other books, but after surgery she stands ready for new horizons on her own two feet.


News editor

August 6, 2005

Madison Hanna’s life takes a new trail this summer.

Not long after school got out, the fifth-grader underwent heart surgery, and got out of Legacy Emanuel Hospital in time to pick up a copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the fictional teen wizard’s latest adventure.

Madison is on her own adventure, finding new energy after a delicate operation that created a bypass to deliver more oxygen to her muscles and organs.

Madison, whose parents are Todd and Deb Hanna of Hood River, underwent Fontan surgery July 6, and got out of the hospital on July 15.

The Harry Potter devotee had hoped to attend the traditional midnight book release. She almost didn’t make it; just home from the hospital, she was exhausted.

“I told her, ‘You’ve really wanted to do this, and you’ll be sorry if you miss it,’” her mother told her that night, sending her to bed for an 11 p.m. wake-up call.

In her bathrobe — like many Harry Potter party attendees — Madison went downtown and stood in line with friends.

The book was worth it.


“It’s the best one yet,” said Madison, who has read the entire series dating to book one which her parents read to her when she was six.

“It makes me curious about what Harry’s going to do,” Madison said. She said her favorite character is Harry’s Godfather Sirius Black, because “he’s always truthful and he’s a really good person.”

Many people are still reading the book, so Madison divulges no details, but she did say, “It surprised me who the Half Blood Prince is.”

She is the first to finish the book among her friends, so she hasn’t been able to talk about it much.

“We only got through the second book,” Todd said with a laugh. “We’re no help at all.

“I like reading because it’s about where everything didn’t happen but some things like that could really happen,” Madison said. She reads about a book a week. She is an intelligent child fueled by natural curiosity, but her heart condition has limited her physical activity throughout her young life, which has lent itself to quiet time.

She’s ready for something new.

“I got to hike the Indian Creek Trail!” she said this week.

“She’d never have wanted to do that,” Todd said. Such is the change in Hanna’s life.

As Todd puts it, the surgery reduced the work load on her heart, since she has just one functioning artery.

“I really like PE but I can’t do a lot of the stuff in PE. I hope I can do it a lot longer,” Hanna said.

In the Fontan surgery, named for the French Dr. Frances Fontan, surgeons create a passageway that allows blood to bypass the right ventricle, which is usually responsible for pumping oxygen-poor blood to the lungs for fresh oxygen.

In Madison’s case, she had only one ventricle working, meaning there was insufficient blood oxygen reaching her lower body and organs.

Doctors connected a conduit, just three millimeters wide, outside the heart directly to the pulmonary artery, to serve as a pressure-relief valve, Todd said.

“Her strength should be better. Her oxygen saturation is now in the low-80s, and when she exercised (before surgery) it dropped to around the 40s.

“It especially affected her legs, where the big muscles are and require more oxygen,” Todd said.

The surgery brought her normal resting saturation up to the low 90s. “It’s still about 8 percent lower than normal, but her blood shouldn’t desaturate as fast,” he said.

Without missing a beat, Madison said, “I’d like to test it on my bike.” For a few weeks yet, though, bike riding is out — along with any activity involving potential impacts, due to her incision and internal hardware.

As Todd puts it, “She has a whole new physiology. Her blood is flowing at different pressures. There are adjustments the body had to make, including her liver and other organs.

The surgery “changed where the blood goes and how it gets there,” he said.


Madison’s original cardiologist, when the family lived in Utah, did not support the idea of Fontan, believing the side effects outweighed the benefits. The family thought about it for years.

“We waited for Madison to tell us what she wanted to do. Last year she started to tell us she wanted to do it,” Todd said. Madison’s current cardiologist, Dr. Douglas King of Children’s Cardiac Center at Legacy Emanuel, said this would be a good time but not to wait much longer because the heart could grow too rigid, according to Todd. The Fontan operation is typically done on children 3-4 years old.

Madison is feeling much better, but as with many types of surgery, there is the element of doubt.

“Some patients don’t adjust well. Sometimes they need to reverse it,” Todd said. “There can be a loss of protein, through lack of absorption,” and kidney complications due to the change in blood pressure. “That is a possibility in Madison’s case. It’s just something we have to watch for.” But the Hannas are thankful for the noticeable improvements in Madison’s energy and appearance. They celebrated when she ran up the block two weeks ago to greet a friend she had not seen for awhile.

“She’s pinker,” Todd said. “Her color is really coming back.”


This week, Madison’s busy schedule included a checkup in Portland with Dr. King. The only problem was it would take her away from the county museum History Camp she is attending.

Madison is eager for all new trails. Her downtown rounds with her father on Wednesday included a visit to the library as well as to the newspaper office for an interview and photo shoot.

Getting up to leave, Madison hands the thick Harry Potter book to her dad and says, “Trade you.” Todd hands her the next book on Madison’s list:

Cynthia Voigt’s “Homecoming.”

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