8-year-old heart warrior now fighting battle with kidney function

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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VACHERIE — Eight-year-old Claire Brazan captured the heart of the River Parishes community through her journey with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition that required her to endure several procedures including open heart surgery and a transplant when she was an infant.

The little heart warrior is now facing uncharted territory in a battle to maintain kidney function, according to her mother, Trista Brazan.

Claire’s two-year streak without any hospital admissions ended after she suddenly spiked a fever on Christmas and became very ill. Her family initially thought it was the flu because they had recently visited family during a time of year when viruses run rampant.

Over the next 12 hours, Claire started to look worse. Since she is considered medically fragile, her family wasted no time taking her to the ER at Ochsner Main campus, where a majority of her specialists work.

There, Claire was diagnosed with a bacterial bloodstream infection that put her in temporary organ failure, striking her kidneys the hardest. However, her family anticipated that once the infection was treated, Claire’s organs would recover — and they did. Temporarily.

Claire was discharged on January 14 to complete her recovery at home. On January 26, during a clinic visit to follow up on her infection, several of her lab tests came back abnormal. Concerned by her heart rate and blood pressure, Claire’s doctor made the call to admit her for observation.

Since then, Claire’s kidney function has been the primary concern.

Claire’s kidneys have become injured in the past following infections and open heart surgeries, but she always eventually recovered, and her chronic kidney disease never progressed beyond stage 2.

There are five stages of kidney disease, with the last stage being kidney failure. Brazan said doctors haven’t yet determined whether Claire’s kidneys are badly injured or if her chronic kidney disease has progressed to the final stage.

“It is still unclear if the decline is due to the strain of the infection, which could be reversible, or if the damage is permanent,” Brazan said. “Regardless, it has progressed to the point of needing dialysis to help rid her body of the waste and toxins that the kidneys normally filter when healthy.”

Claire started dialysis on February 8 to help her kidneys filter waste and balance electrolytes. Doctors hope giving her kidneys rest will help recover some function and allow Claire to become stable enough to outpatient management of chronic kidney disease.

In the event that she is confirmed to be in kidney failure, as her labs have suggested, she will be evaluated for a transplant.

Several Super Bowl pools were organized on Claire’s behalf. No other formal fundraisers have been organized at this time. However, donations to help with medical expenses and assist the family while Claire’s mother is unable to work can be directed to the Claire Brazan Heart Fund at Louisiana Federal Credit Union locations.

“The River Parishes Community has remained generous, which is very much appreciated,” Brazan said.

According to Brazan, the best way for the community to support Claire is to join together in prayer for her healing.

Though nonverbal, Claire has a big personality and has no problem communicating to her family what she likes and wants. Her favorite show, Minnie’s Bow Show, plays on a continuous loop on her iPad.

When she isn’t hanging out at home, or visiting her doctors, Claire enjoys cheering on her 14-year-old sister Chloe on the St. James High School varsity basketball team.

Updates on Claire’s progress are shared on the Claire’s Heart Journey Facebook page.