Patient Stories

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Atrial septal defect: Saving "princess" Emily

Our daughter Emily’s heart defect wasn’t discovered until she was nearly 3 years old. In hindsight, we now know that her numerous illnesses and bouts of pneumonia were a sign that something wasn’t right, but until her diagnosis, we never suspected anything serious. She always had plenty of liveliness and certainly kept us busy with her antics—dancing or singing or getting Daddy to play princess with her… again.

By all counts, she was just our happy, energetic little girl.

Then, during a routine doctor’s visit, a nurse said she heard a murmur in Emily’s heartbeat. We didn’t think too much of it at the time, my wife Carol has a heart murmur, so a second murmur in the family didn’t cause too much worry. However, after the echocardiogram that provided clear images of her heart, we began to understand the gravity of our situation: Emily had a hole in her heart. Read more.

Our patients’ stories: Mickey’s got heart

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Our son Mickey has been coming to Boston Children’s Hospital his whole life. Actually, he’s been coming here even longer than that. He was diagnosed with a heart defect during an ultrasound taken the 20th week of my pregnancy. It was hard at first to tell what was wrong with his heart but the images showed there was a significant problem, so we began meeting with Boston Children’s doctors to establish a plan of action.

When Mickey was born it was confirmed that he had a congenital heart defect called a double outlet right ventricle with coarctation of the aorta as well as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and severe tricuspid valve disease.

Where a normal heart has four chambers, Mickey’s only has three. He was born without a left ventricle and a severely narrowed aorta, which is the main supplier of blood to the body; so many of his organs, including the lungs, weren’t getting the blood they needed to function properly. It was decided that his best chance at life would be a series of three surgeries to re-route the blood vessels from his heart to his lungs to make sure his body got all the oxygen it needed.

Mickey had his first open heart surgery at five days old, performed by Dr. Christopher Baird. Overall it was a success, but a week after heading home he was readmitted to Boston Children's Hospital... read more.

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Lucas redefines the term "half-hearted"

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The next time you’re tempted to refer to a lazy co-worker’s efforts as “half-hearted,” take a second to rethink that statement. In popular culture half-hearted may mean unmotivated, but around the McGowan house it means brave, strong and amazing.

Bill and Becky McGowan were just about five months into their first pregnancy when tests reveled that there was a problem with the baby’s heart. The doctors explained their unborn child had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), one of the most devastating congenital heart defects, in which the left ventricle is severely underdeveloped. Read more.

 

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