Kerrigan Faas


The Faas family adopted Kerrigan from China in December 2009, knowing that when she arrived in the United States, two-year old Kerrigan would need surgery to repair her Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. The condition affects the structure of the heart, causing oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and into the rest of the body. Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta performed a successful open-heart surgery on March 12, 2010. But the following day, Kerrigan had some complications and went into cardiac arrest. She was immediately placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)—a sophisticated bypass machine that assumes a patient’s heart and lung functions, allowing these organs to heal during critical illness. When doctors took her off ECMO three days later, Kerrigan began having seizures. As a result of the cardiac arrest, she had suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen to her brain. Kerrigan was in a comatose state for a week. She then began showing signs of improvement through small limb movements and some eye contact. She was then transferred from the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Egleston to the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Scottish Rite. There she underwent four weeks of intensive therapy and has recovered miraculously from the brain injury. Kerrigan now attends yearly checkups with her cardiologist at Sibley Heart Center Cardiology at Children’s. Additionally, in 2014 Kerrigan participated in a pediatric neuropsychological program tailored for pediatric cardiology patients that was conducted by Children’s and Emory University. Kerrigan is now seven years old and is a thriving, happy girl. She loves singing in the children’s choir at church and dancing in her ballet class each week!