A new lease on a young life

By Ali Braboy 
The (Dixon) Telegraph

DIXON — Aaliyah Marie Cook has had a harder life than most, and she’s only 18 months old.

It’s been a little over a year since Aaliyah’s heart transplant, on May 24, 2016.

The Dixon toddler, daughter of Jasmin Siddiqui, 25, and Cullen Cook, 26, was born Nov. 16, 2015, with an underdeveloped heart, specifically, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital defect; aortic and mitral atresia, in which blood can’t move from the left ventricle to the body properly; and restrictive atrial septal defect, a hole in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers.

“It’s been long and stressful,” Siddiqui said, but “we’ve got a good support system.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1 in every 4,344 babies born each year in the U.S. has hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Aaliyah has had three open heart surgeries so far, and sometime between the ages of 5 and 7, will have to have another, and then another sometime between her teens and 20s.

Nothing is certain though – she could need a new transplant as early as next week, if her body dictates, her mom said.

People have been sending transplant-anniversary presents recently.

The couple also has a 6-year-old, daughter, Layla Cook.

Siddiqui said they never know what will happen tomorrow, but they live every day to the fullest.

Her advice to other parents going through a similar situation?

“Don’t ever give up or lose faith.”

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