Community rallies around Chesterfield teen after life-saving surgery

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) – A Chesterfield teenager survived high-risk open-heart surgery in January, but as she recovers, 16-year old Hayleigh Wilde has a long road ahead.

That’s why classmates, neighbors, and complete strangers are pitching in to help.

“There’s not enough thank you’s to go out to all the people who’ve reached out to help her,” Wilde’s sister, Jordan King told 8News. “There was a chance that we weren’t even going to see her again.”


A small case of pneumonia turned into a waking nightmare for Wilde’s parents on January 9, when a CT scan revealed that a major blood clot had formed in her lung.

“We said, ‘whatever you need to do to save our child,’” said John Wilde, Hayleigh’s father.


Doctors had to perform open heart surgery to remove the clot.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through that,” J. Wilde added, telling 8News that no parent should have to witness their child endure such pain. “It’s terrible.”


Wilde pulled though the six-hour operation but remains hospitalized as her heart regains strength. Blake King, her brother-in-law, wrote about the ordeal on a GoFundMe page for the teenager’s recovery:

“Monday January 9th Hayleigh was rushed to Chippenham Hospital with what we thought was a small case of pneumonia. Little did we know that was the beginning to the worst week our family has ever had to go through. The week started out with 100% oxygen assistance then two days later to a breathing tube, feeding tube and catheter. After X-rays and an ECO being done, Chippenham then ordered the Critical Care Unit of MCV to transport her to MCV. Upon arrival they did an emergency CT scan.

That’s when a small case of pneumonia turned into our worst nightmare. The CT scan showed a major blood clot in her lung. The neurologist at MCV did emergency surgery to try and remove it. They did everything they could but were unsuccessful. The only thing left was open heart surgery to remove the blood clot. A 16 year old girl with Down-Syndrome heading towards open heart surgery didn’t sound good. The doctor gave us a 10% chance of Hayleigh’s survival through the surgery. 6 hours later we got the best news of the day. Our fighter made it through and was stable. She had to be put on an ECMO machine to be able to survive. She’s still on the ECMO machine but her heart seems to be regaining strength. This little girl has a very long road ahead of her that she doesn’t deserve.”

At a fundraiser in Chesterfield County, family and friends described Hayleigh as a lightning bolt personality, stubborn at times, and often flirtatious.

“She’s goofy to say the least,” King said.


Wilde plays tee ball for the Miracle League of Richmond. She’s also a cheerleader for Manchester High School athletics, where she is a sophomore.

In less than two weeks, donors have raised more than $4,400 to help with at-home medical care and equipment as she recovers.

The GoFundMe campaign for Hayleigh has been shared more than a thousand times on Facebook.

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