Avery Tincher has been a fighter since the very beginning. A strong, beautiful baby girl born on March 31, 2017 came into the world with literally half of a working heart: a condition known as HLHS, or hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Those four letters are some of the scariest a parent can hear; it's one of the most severe congenital heart defects. Lindsey Beth Tincher, Avery's mom says they learned a lot quickly: 'We knew quite a bit. We found out when I was 20 weeks pregnant and we started going down to UAB. They told us Avery had HLHS - which is half of a heart.'
And the half of a heart Avery had would not be enough to pump oxygen-rich blood to her entire body. That's why Lindsey Beth and husband Michael traveled to Birmingham week after week to see Avery's progress in the womb under the care and watchful eyes of experts at UAB and in the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama at Children's of Alabama.
Immediately after Avery was born, the team from UAB and Children's of Alabama rushed Avery across the walkway to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit where Lindsey Beth remembers how she struggled: 'Enough oxygen didn’t get to the rest of her body, so her stomach couldn't work properly and she threw up all the time. She had blue fingers; she had blue lips. She couldn’t tolerate any type of movement when she was first born because it was too much for her oxygen-deprived body.’
Avery was put on ECMO - life support - the day she was born, and she had her first open heart surgery at one week old at the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama at Children’s of Alabama.
Michael and Lindsey Beth were told Avery might never go home; Avery's doctors gave her a 30% chance of survival. It was out of their hands as they prayed, hoped, and waited.
Michael remembers: 'I guess as parents, you know with a child that had a condition like that, we were facing the unknown. There was nothing we could do or know what to do. So to have a place in Alabama where we can rely on the expertise was phenomenal that it was just that close. The treatment that they gave Avery and us as parents was by far the best thing that could have happened to us and for Avery. we watched the doctors and nurses save her life FIVE times.”
Avery spent most of her first year of life in the hospital. Lindsey Beth stayed with her while Michael came back to Huntsville to work during the week and spend weekends in Birmingham.
Avery's heart never got strong enough to keep her healthy in spite of the surgeries and treatments, so she was placed on the transplant waiting list where she stayed for nine months.
On May 11th, 2018, Avery received her donor heart, finally allowing her to come home to Huntsville where she is learning to walk, play and have fun like a three year old should!
Avery’s outlook is good because of the research, constant contact and constant care she receives from Children’s of Alabama.
Families like Avery’s are the very reason Castin’ N’ Catchin’ exists; it’s a bass fishing tournament at Goose Pond Colony this weekend raising funds to give children like Avery the best care possible right here at home in Alabama.
The tournament has raised over $300,000 since starting in 2016, and every penny goes directly to Children’s of Alabama to support research and care of our state's heart families.
Registration for the tournament is open through Saturday morning at blast-off, and the cost is $110 or $55 for the school division, and the grand prize payout if $5,000 with payouts through 40th place (based on 200 boats).