Local child dies following battle with rare heart condition

By Katie Demeria

Arielle Hammonds of Front Royal held her 18-month-old daughter Jordyn for several hours the night the little girl passed away.

It happened on Wednesday, and Hammonds said since then, whenever she gets upset, she thinks of her daughter and finds herself smiling.

“She was the happiest baby I’ve ever seen,” she said. “She was so happy and so funny, I have a ton of pictures of her laughing.”

Hammonds created a Facebook fan page for Jordyn called “Team Jordyn.” The page has over 7,000 likes, and Hammonds said she has been inundated with messages from many who followed Jordyn’s story.

Jordyn struggled with pulmonary vein stenosis throughout most of her life. PVS is a rare condition in which the oxygen-rich blood traveling from the lungs to the heart is unable to get through the vessels, backing up into the lungs instead.

On Wednesday, Hammonds and Jordyn were in Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., because Jordyn was suffering from the flu.

“She had been smiling, and playing the whole week,” Hammonds said. “She did have fevers every day, but otherwise she was really fine. Until she wasn’t fine. Up until 4:30 that day, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong.”

Hammonds did not look at the time when Jordyn’s condition began deteriorating, but after judging by the time she called her mother, she estimated that Jordyn probably passed at around 5 p.m.

“She had woken up, and had a dirty diaper, so I cleaned her up and turned her over, because she likes to sleep on her side,” Hammonds said. “So I told her, you can go back to sleep now, and she calmed down and it seemed like she was going back to sleep.”

Hammonds returned to the parent’s area in the back of the room to allow Jordyn some peace, she said. She kept hearing her make noises, though, and realized something was wrong when she saw her daughter biting her tongue.

“I went and got the nurse, because Jordyn never scares me, she scares other people, but never me because I know what she is always doing,” Hammonds said. “But this time she scared me.”

Jordyn’s heart rate soon plummeted. Doctors began performing CPR every two minutes because her lungs were not sending oxygen to her heart — though they could get it to start, Hammonds said, it would not beat on its own.

Usually with Jordyn, she added, putting in a breathing tube and adding nitric gas will lower the pressure and allow the oxygen to get to her heart. This time, though, the gas did not make a difference.

“The doctor asked me if there was a point when I wanted them to stop,” Hammonds said. “I said no, don’t give up on her.”

It was in the last few minutes, when Jordyn stopped responding to the CPR, that Hammonds said she knew it was over.

“I don’t even know the words,” she said. “I was hysterical, I could not stop crying.”

The hospital staff cleaned Jordyn up and told Hammonds she could hold her for as long as she wanted.

“And in my mind I wanted to hold her forever,” she said.

It was not until midnight that Hammonds, accompanied by her family and friends, was able to leave.

“The only thing I could do was just pick her up and hold her,” she said. “But eventually I realized we had to go. It was a really hard thing to do, leave.”

The funeral will be held at noon Saturday at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Front Royal.

The family is requesting donations toward burial expenses in lieu of flowers. They can be sent to the Turner Robertshaw funeral home in Front Royal.

Jordyn will be interred at Good Hope Cemetery in Front Royal.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com