ABBEVILLE -- A family here has had hereditary heart problems for three generations, and they do not know why.
Velma and Paul Dubois of Abbeville waited until their late 20s to have children, after he returned from the Korean War. Their son and daughter were both were diagnosed with heart problems.
Her son, Tony Dubois, would have heart surgeries to repair holes in his heart until he was 6 1/2 years old. Today he is fine and has a family.
Velma’s daughter, June Dubois Harden, had heart valve problems but she managed to avoid any surgeries and outgrew her heart problems.
June and Tony had children.
Tony married and had a son, who was born with no heart problems.
June was not as fortunate. Her first born, Jared, had a healthy heart and is 26 today. But her second child, Megan Nicole, was was born with four holes in her heart and would die at the age of 18.
Jared was 20 at his sister’s death.
Jared’s first child was a healthy son, who lives a normal life. But his second, three-year-old Alexis Cormier, now sits in a Birmingham, Ala. hospital awaiting a heart transplant. She is being kept alive by an artificial Berlin Heart.
Her heart gave out months ago and the Berlin Heart is designed to only be a temporary heart until a new one is found.
The family went to Birmingham in September in hopes of having heart surgery to repair her half-working heart, but something went wrong. Alexis is now kept alive by the Berlin heart.
Her name is on top of the heart transplant list.
“I cannot give up,” said Jared. “I will never give up. This is the second time I go through this. I went through it with Megan and now my own daughter.”
Because of the family heart history, the Cormiers learned Alexis had a half-working heart when she was still in her mother’s womb. Doctors were prepared for the problem and she had heart surgery when she was two weeks old.
Jared said had the family not known about the heart problem, she would have died days after being born.
Velma has researched her family and her husband’s family to find out why the family has the heart problems. No luck.
Dr. Harold Trahan Sr, a doctor from Maurice, told them the problem could have started when Paul contracted malaria while fighting in the Korean War.
When he returned stateside, Paul continued to have malaria problems. But the Dubois’s never had proof it was malaria that caused their children’s, grandchildren and great grandchildren’s heart defects.
“It has been rough seeing what your kids, grandkids have gone through,” said Velma. “Now it is the great-grandkids. If I knew what I know now, I probably would not have had children.”
As far as Alexis, the Cormiers pray every day they will get the call for a new heart. In the mean time, they live minute by minute.
“If it is not worth living, then it is not worth fighting far. She (Alexis) is worth fighting for,” said Jared.