Toddler receives specialized heart care close to home in Paducah, Kentucky

You already have enough on your plate, and driving long distance makes it more complicated,” Annie Keipp said. “Being able to stay close to home and close to family has been a huge help for us.”

Norton Children’s Heart Institute

Our team of pediatric cardiologists offers specialized heart care for children at 10 locations across Kentucky, including the Paducah area.

Three-year-old Zoey Keipp is all smiles during her visits with Brian J. Holland, M.D., pediatric cardiologist with Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

Zoey, whose family lives in the Paducah, Kentucky, area, doesn’t have to take long car rides to Louisville for her cardiology appointments. Dr. Holland sees patients at the Norton Children’s Heart Institute ­office in Paducah, making it convenient for Zoey’s family and other families across the Western Kentucky region.

“It’s such a relief,” said Zoey’s mom, Annie. “You already have enough on your plate, and driving long distance makes it more complicated. Being able to stay close to home and close to family has been a huge help for us.”

Zoey has a random genetic mutation, an 8p23.1 deletion, which means genetic material is missing from chromosome 8. As a result, she was born with various heart and neurological issues.

During the 20-week anatomy scan of her pregnancy, Annie learned her baby had cardiac defects.

In her job as a licensed practical nurse at the Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine office in Paducah, Annie helps care for patients with high-risk pregnancies, such as when a baby’s heart condition has been diagnosed before birth.

Now, this was Annie.

“At first, it was definitely a shock. Even though I see these things every day, you don’t think it will happen to you,” she said. “We knew she had a cardiac defect, but we didn’t know what was going to happen from there. I’m lucky I work where I do, and we have such great people, so I knew we were in good hands.”

Immediately after Zoey was born, cardiologists discovered a large atrial septal defect (ASD). Zoey also was diagnosed with pulmonary stenosis and a ventricular septal defect (VSD) which meant she would need heart surgery.

When Zoey was 4 months old, she had a successful heart procedure done with a catheter, called a balloon pulmonary valvuloplasty, performed by Edward S. Kim, M.D., pediatric interventional cardiologist with Norton Children’s Heart Institute. Over time, one of the holes in her heart, the VSD, was able to close on its own.  In October 2022, Zoey underwent open heart surgery to close the last hole, the ASD, and is now “doing amazing,” according to her mom.

“Zoey is very outgoing, funny and stubborn, which I feel has helped her get through everything,” Annie said. “She loves anything to do with water activities, music and dancing.”

Zoey’s family hopes she won’t have to have any more heart procedures for the rest of her life, but she has regular checkups with her team of doctors and specialists.

“All of our doctors ask, ‘Is there anything you need? Is there anything we can do to help you?’ Everyone has been fantastic,” said Annie, who understands the importance of quality care and support for patients like her — those who receive care at the maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) practice where she works.

“We all care deeply for our MFM patients,” she said. “Our patients are family, and all of us are moms and dads. It’s something that is very close to our hearts.”