Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Small Girl. Big Hero.
Meet Jolie Carolan: A hero to all of us at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.

January 01, 2013

At Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent, the kids in our care are more than our patients. They are our heroes. And one of the most inspiring heroes we’ve cared for in recent years is Jolie Lynn Carolan.

Jolie’s health problems began even before she was born. When her mother was five months pregnant with her, Jolie was diagnosed with congenital scoliosis. At the time, the doctors couldn’t predict exactly how this would affect Jolie. But congenital scoliosis often causes severe abnormalities and medical problems in newborns.

“When I was pregnant with Jolie, the diagnosis was not good,” Jennifer Carolan said. “We were warned that due to her congenital scoliosis, she might have mental health issues, physical disabilities and even a shortened life expectancy. This made the last four months of my pregnancy especially difficult. It was a true test of our faith.”

Fortunately, Jolie’s family learned soon after she was born that many of the potential problems the doctors predicted weren’t present. They also found out Jolie’s congenital scoliosis was caused by an extra vertebra in her spine.

While Jolie’s hemae vertebrae wouldn’t inhibit her mental development, it did cause problems with her heart and kidneys. Jolie had to remain on oxygen for months before she was given open-heart surgery to correct multiple holes in her heart. The surgery was a success, and Jolie’s heart was healed.

Jolie continues to battle other problems. She has a pelvic kidney—meaning one kidney didn’t rise properly—and she also had reflux in both kidneys. While the reflux has healed, Jolie’s scoliosis is still a progressive problem. Every six months Jolie goes to see her doctor. Although her spine is maintaining its curvature, it will eventually require surgery. The hope is that surgery can be delayed until Jolie is an adolescent, when it will be easier for her body to handle. Thankfully, that’s been the case so far.

Today, Jolie is a smart, fearless little girl. She is small in size—her heart condition coupled with her scoliosis gives her a tiny stature and a fast metabolism—but she is larger than life when it comes to personality.

“Jolie is always smiling, always happy,” her mother said. “She’s been through more in her short life than most people go through in a lifetime. Looking at her you’d never know it though. She’s just as feisty and full of spirit as the next child.

At Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent, we have lots of heroes like Jolie. They face health concerns of all kinds, but one quality binds them together: an unyielding courage in the face of hardship. And each one of them inspires us in multiple ways, every day. In their honor, we’re holding a contest for children in which we want to hear about your hero. To register—or just to learn more—visit and click on the “Who’s Your Hero” Indy’s Child tab at the top.