The mother burst out laughing when the vet called to mention the dog's heart condition. "She has pulmonary stenosis?" the mother asked. "...So does my daughter."
Nicki Mikolai says it cannot be a mere coincidence that she met a dog with the exact same and extremely rare heart disease that her teenage daughter, Avery, has. From the time Avery was born in the year 2006, Nicki has had to watch her daughter receive consistent medical attention for her heart condition. "It was terrifying," Nicki said as she took a look at old photos of Avery. Right from when Avery was a baby, she had to be hooked up to wires and ventilators as her tiny body fought to survive.
For Avery, her very first emergency heart surgery took place on the day she was born. Doctors at the University of Minnesota knew something was wrong, and they took her into surgery just four hours after her birth. "He right away said, ‘We know what this is. It's pulmonary stenosis,'" Nicki recalled while speaking to KARE 11.
Because of the condition, pulmonary stenosis, the blood flow in Avery's body was restricted. "It is fairly rare," says Dr. Daniel Cortez, one of Avery's current doctors at the M Health Fairview U of M Masonic Children's Hospital. "One percent of kids will have congenital heart disease. Then, out of the congenital heart disease, anywhere between 8 and 12% will have pulmonary valve stenosis," the doctor explained.
That is how rare Avery's condition is. As Avery continued living with her heart condition, she was in for a huge surprise when they decided to foster a dog during the pandemic. "When everybody was locked down, we started talking about the fact that it would be really fun to foster dogs," Nicki said.
After scrolling through the canine rescue service called No Dog Left Behind, they found a photo of a husky and pit bull mix that piqued their interest. The dog, Annie, was abandoned at a farm in Kentucky and had a heart issue.
Days after she arrived home, Annie was taken to the vet for a checkup. Later, when Nicki picked up the call from the vet's office, she was surprised to hear what the vet had to say. "They said, 'Annie has two heart defects. The first one is pulmonary stenosis,'" Nicki recalled. The mother couldn't help but burst out laughing.
She asked the vet, "She has pulmonary stenosis?"
"Yes, she does," the vet responded.
"So does my daughter," Nicki said.
Not only was the heart condition so rare, but Nicki and Avery managed to overcome the odds of finding a dog with the exact same heart condition.
"I don’t even know how you could possibly calculate the odds of this," the mother shared.
Just like the surgery that Avery had as an infant, Annie also underwent the same procedure of a balloon valvuloplasty to widen out her narrowed pulmonary artery.
For Nicki and Avery, there was no doubt that Annie was meant to be a part of their family. And they soon officially adopted her.
As Nicki sees how Avery and Annie support each other, she said, "I think it's really nice that she's able to support the dog, and the dog clearly supports her as well. I think it's very wonderful actually. Very sweet that they found each other."
Avery, too, is more than glad to have Annie around. "I just think like she's my dog and I'm happy to have her."
While Avery might not be too concerned about whether it's fate or coincidence, Nicki is absolutely sure that finding Annie was something that was meant to happen.
"That's just not a coincidence," Nicki said. "I just think this was completely orchestrated by God and he might as well have come to the door and said, 'Here is this dog for you to love.'"