Kaleena Carothers

Riley kid Kaleena Carothers
Kaleena Carothers, Columbus

With her big smile and contagious laughter, it’s hard not to feel happy when meeting Kaleena Joy Carothers. In fact, her name inspires just that—Kaleena is Hawaiian for “pure” and she is a pure joy to her family and friends.

Before Kaleena was born, her parents, Matt and Cheryl Carothers, did not know she would have Down syndrome. After her diagnosis, Kaleena was referred to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health six days after she was born. During her check-up, cardiologist Timothy Cordes, M.D., discovered she had two major heart defects that would require surgery.

When Kaleena was 7 months old, John Brown, M.D., performed her open heart surgery. She spent six weeks in the Riley Intensive Care Unit and two weeks in the Heart Center while recovering.

“Daily we encountered the love of a medical team who were guiding Kaleena’s recovery with professionalism, experience, confidence and compassion,” Cheryl says. “They gained our trust for the very life of our baby.”

Two years later, Kaleena is a playful toddler with a big personality. Riley continues to be a part of the Carothers’ lives as Kaleena continues cardiology check-ups with Dr. Cordes and developmental pediatrics physician, Marilyn Bull, M.D. “Her health is amazing after all she has been through—thanks to Riley,” Cheryl says. “Riley not only gives us hope, but gives her the means to live up to her name: pure joy.”

Browse More Stories