Meet Blakely Smith, a Toddler with a Bright Future and a Strong Heart

Meet Blakely Smith, a Toddler with a Bright Future and a Strong Heart

Looking at 3-year-old Blakely Smith, it’s hard to figure out which shines brighter – the tiara she is wearing or her sparkling eyes.

A little too young to understand and talk about the heart conditions she was born with, she can point to where she had open heart surgeries with no hesitation.

“When I was 33 weeks pregnant, they wanted me to have a scan,” said Abigail Smith, Blakely’s mom. The doctors stepped out of the room, returned and told Abigail they were going to transfer her to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health because there was something going on with her daughter’s heart.

It turned out to be transposition of the great arteries, or TGA for short.

“In this condition, the two arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs and body aren’t connected as they should be. They are reversed or transposed,” explained Arshid Mir, M.D., pediatric cardiologist at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. “The aorta is connected to the right ventricle. It should normally be connected to the left ventricle. The pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle when it should normally be connected to the right ventricle.”

TGA is complicated, but it is also treatable. What causes the rare condition is not known. Symptoms are apparent at birth and include great difficulty breathing and severe cyanosis, often referred to as blue baby syndrome.

In fact, Blakely was facing more than one problem. She had TGA and was born with holes in her heart. Dr. Mir explained that babies are often born with a single small hole in their heart that closes on its own, but Blakely had two and the blood wasn’t flowing through her body like it should. For tiny Blakely this meant the first of a series of heart procedures and surgeries.

“We did a heart catheterization on Blakely at only four days old,” Dr. Mir explained. “By putting the small balloon through her very tiny artery, we were able to stretch it a little and make it a little bigger, allowing more blood to flow through. This allowed us to avoid open heart surgery on her before she was even a week old. We wanted her to grow and get stronger before undergoing a bigger surgery.”

“They sent us home where we monitored her for eight months. They wanted her heart to be at least the size of a strawberry before they operated on it,” Abigail said.

During her first open heart surgery, a new tiny valve was put in place and in the simplest terms, her heart was rebuilt. As she grew, that valve would have to be replaced by a larger one.

At just a little more than 2 years old, Blakely underwent her second open heart surgery with the goal of replacing the now too-small valve.

Blakely now lives her best toddler life with no restrictions – except for an allergy to bovine (cow) products. “She is a roller-skating, snow-playing kid,” Abigail said. Blakely has picture books created by her mother to help her understand the journey she has been on so far, but those aren’t the coolest thing to her.

“She is really into the scar factor right now. Her grandfather had open heart surgery and so they have matching scars…she’s got all these friends with scars that match. She just knows she had a boo-boo and it’s all fixed.”

Learn more about Oklahoma Children’s Hospital pediatric heart services, and watch Blakely in our latest Oklahoma Children’s Hospital commercial at