2023 Champion Kingston Murriel’s care began before birth at Children’s of Mississippi
Published on Thursday, February 9, 2023
By: Annie Oeth, email@example.com
Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Communications
Kingston Murriel, Mississippi’s 2023 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion, was a University of Mississippi Medical Center and Children’s of Mississippi patient before he was born.
Diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Kingston has grown up with care at the state’s only children’s hospital. Now a fourth-grader at Brandon Elementary, Kingston is Mississippi’s 2023 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion.
Every year, 170 local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals identify a Champion in each of their local communities to serve as the face for children treated at their local children's hospital. These ambassadors spend their year advocating for the charitable need of children's hospitals across North America.
Kingston’s parents, Liz Foster and Marcus Murriel, first learned about Kingston’s congenital heart condition during an ultrasound about four weeks before his due date.
“My doctor said, ‘Is he laying on his side? I can’t see the left side of his heart,’” Foster said. “We landed at the Center for Maternal Fetal Medicine at UMMC and saw Dr. Jennifer Shores soon after.”
Shores has known Kingston since then.
"Like so many of our cardiac patients, Kingston was first seen as a fetus in our Center for Maternal Fetal Care, where maternal fetal medicine and fetal cardiology doctors diagnose and begin care for these babies before they’re born,” Shores said. “The center is the only center of its kind in Mississippi, offering comprehensive and compassionate care for mothers and babies.”
The center includes multiple subspecialists in areas including maternal fetal medicine, fetal cardiology, palliative care, neonatology, cardiac surgery, cardiac intensive care, general surgery, neurosurgery and genetics.
Kingston’s family worked closely with a navigator and fetal cardiac care coordinator to get the best care before he was born and make the transition from prenatal care to neonatal cardiac care.
Babies who are born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome have a heart with an underdeveloped left side that can’t pump oxygen-rich blood to the body properly.
Each year about 1,025 babies in the United States are born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one out of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart condition, and about one out of every 3,841 babies born each year has hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
The condition is treated with a series of three surgeries – the Norwood, the Glenn and the Fontan. Kingston’s first surgery, the Norwood procedure, was performed five days after he was born.
“It was hard,” Foster said. “After he was born, Kingston went straight to the ICU and was already hooked up to machines. In a day or two, I got to stand by his bedside.”
After Kingston’s birth and the Norwood procedure, he spent three weeks in the children’s hospital, “but we were back in a week,” Foster said. “He had a malrotation of the intestines.”
This condition, a twisting of the intestines that can create a blockage, was corrected, and Kingston had a colostomy bag for six months until he was ready for the next surgical procedure, the Glenn. After that surgery, the colostomy was removed.
The third of the procedures, the Fontan, was performed by Dr. Jorge Salazar when Kingston was 3.
“When Dr. Salazar came from the OR, he told us that it looked like the left side of Kingston’s heart was growing,” Foster said.
Salazar recommended a biventricular repair once Kingston’s heart had reached the optimal size. By that time, the surgeon had relocated to Houston, Texas, so the surgery was performed at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in 2021. His story was broadcast on "Good Morning America.”
“Through all his surgeries, Kingston has never said ‘why me?’” his father said. “Not once. He’s an inspiration.”
The past year has been a milestone for Kingston. “This was the first year ever that Kingston has not been in the hospital or the emergency department or on oxygen,” Foster said.
Through his health challenges, Kingston and his family have shared their story on Mississippi Miracles Radiothon, a fundraiser that benefits Children’s of Mississippi. Foster, a project manager in the School of Nursing at UMMC, also knows how Children’s of Mississippi helps children and families through her previous position as manager of Mississippi Safe Kids.
“We’re happy to share our story because of what Children’s of Mississippi has meant to us,” Foster said.
Kingston agreed. “I feel great about being Champion,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without the doctors and nurses here.”
After his surgeries, Kingston is “doing great,” Foster said. “He loves playing baseball and playing video games. He’s amazing.”
Dr. Mary Taylor, professor and Suzan Brown Thames Chair of Pediatrics as well as an expert in pediatric cardiac critical care, was among the doctors who cared for Kingston when he was an infant. She was on hand Wednesday to congratulate Kingston as Champion.
“I took care of Kingston as a tiny baby, and I am so excited to welcome him to this new role,” Taylor said. “When we talk with families with children who have congenital heart conditions, they ask us what their children will be able to do. Children with congenital heart disease look like everyone else and can do what everyone else does.”
Alicon Johnson, director of Children’s Heart Services at Children’s of Mississippi, said Kingston is a role model. “He’s a perfect example of what a patient with congenital heart disease can do. He is a CHD warrior, and we are so proud of him.”