Lot of heart: The number of surgeries and procedures Jaycee Elliott has undergone outnumbers her age. But she is thankful for each of her 28 years of life.

At 3 months old, Jaycee underwent her first heart surgery at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. That began a string of more than 30 surgeries and procedures. The latest of those, she says thankfully, was Nov. 10, 2010, in Cleveland, Ohio.
by Bryan Painter Modified: November 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm •  Published: November 29, 2013
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It's not the typical anniversary.

But Jaycee Elliott hasn't led a typical life in terms of health.

This month, Jaycee and husband Travis, married four years as of March, celebrated three years of Jaycee not undergoing surgery.

“We felt like that was such an accomplishment and a blessing, because in our first year and a half of marriage I had five surgeries,” said Jaycee, 28, of Poteau. “However, all the surgeries and health issues have just brought us closer to each other and we are truly enjoying our life together.”

At 3 months old, Jaycee underwent her first heart surgery at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center. That began a string of more than 30 surgeries and procedures. The latest of those, she says thankfully, was Nov. 10, 2010, in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The Melody valve that was placed during my last surgery in Cleveland seems to be working great and my doctors, as well as myself, are very pleased with how I am doing at this point,” she said.

Continuously thankful

Joanie Goss of Perkins took her and husband Gregg's 2½-month-old daughter Jaycee to a pediatrician for a routine checkup and shots. The doctor listened to the infant's heart and became concerned. The Goss family was instructed to go to the hospital for tests.

The pediatrician later delivered the news: “I think Jaycee only has half a heart.”

Up to that point in their life, Joanie said they were thankful for what they had, never giving much thought to what, or more specifically who, they might lose.

“My first thought was, ‘She's not going to make it. She's not going to live,'” Joanie said. “I couldn't believe it. We had our life all planned out. We had a son, a daughter, we had bought land, we were building a house and we both had jobs. Now I was in shock. I just wanted my daughter healed. That's all I wanted.”

Joanie and Gregg took her to Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, where it was determined that rather than having half a heart, she had a complex congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary stenosis. This meant that she had narrow pulmonary arteries among several other abnormalities.

“I don't get the normal amount of blood to my lungs from my heart,” Jaycee said, “and my oxygen levels are lower than normal.”

Today, her 4-foot, 11-inch, 90-pound frame contains a medical hardware store complete with seven regular stents, a covered stent, a pig valve and a pacemaker-defibrillator combination. Too, she has an aortic homograft piece in the pulmonary position and a Melody valve implanted.


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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I've always told her that we will deal with whatever comes our way, together. We have put our lives, as individuals and as husband and wife, in God's hands. We both know that He won't ever give us more than we can handle.”

Travis Elliott,

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