Kentucky boy with rare condition gets heart care expertise close to home 

Elijah “Eli” Mayes, an 11-year-old from Lewisburg, Kentucky, is thriving, despite a rare and complicated heart disease.

When he was born, Eli was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, an abnormality of the heart. The left side of the heart is smaller and weaker than it should be. With hypoplastic left heart syndrome, surgery is required to create new pathways for the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body.

At 3 days old, Eli underwent his first open heart surgery at Norton Children’s Hospital. It was the beginning of several surgeries and procedures Eli would undergo due to his complex heart disease.

“People who don’t know him don’t know that anything’s wrong with him,” said Amanda Mayes, Eli’s mom. “Despite all his struggles, he’s very joyful.”

Eli continues to undergo treatments, including surgeries, as doctors plan his care to give him the best quality of life. While his procedures take place in Louisville, he receives most of his care at Norton Children’s Outpatient Center – Bowling Green, which is much closer his home in Southern Kentucky.

“It’s incredibly important that we offer care to patients and families where they live,” said Lucinda T. Wright, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist with Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. “This allows us to help patients, like Eli, who have a condition which requires frequent monitoring and visits with a pediatric cardiologist.”

Related: Norton Healthcare, Norton Children’s expanding care in Bowling Green

According to Eli, a solid support system keeps him upbeat.

“I have a great family and doctors,” he said.

Amanda wants to encourage everyone to keep fighting for your kids, because even with health challenges like Eli’s, they can live wonderful lives. Never give up hope.

“He loves life. He enjoys everything. He takes challenges in stride,” Amanda said. “He makes a lot of jokes and enjoys making people smile.”