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Stories of everyday strength from resilient hearts

Join us in celebrating our patients’ strength and resilience after complex heart surgery.

Heart Month Stories | Michael Guleserian

Michael Guleserian

Michael was born with tetralogy of Fallot and had two surgeries at Boston Children’s as a young child, first at age 2 and again at age 6. These surgeries allowed Michael to grow up living a normal life without thinking too much about his heart condition. In high school, he was on the football, wrestling and lacrosse teams, and was the captain of the wrestling team his senior year. Although he continued to see a cardiologist regularly, he never had any symptoms, and his heart condition never held him back. Then, in 2015, his cardiologist in the Boston Adult Congenital Heart Disease (BACH) program, Dr. Anne Marie Valente, told him he would need a pulmonary valve replacement within the next year.

What went through your mind when you learned you’d need another surgery?

I always knew I’d need a valve replacement at some point, but when Dr. Valente told me it was time, I was a little taken aback because we had waited so long and I felt totally fine. But once I heard that, I just wanted to get it done. So, I took the next appointment available with cardiac surgeon Dr. Sitaram Emani and had the surgery in May of 2015.

How did it feel having surgery at a children’s hospital as an adult?

It was amazing. Boston Children’s has a different feeling than any other hospital I’ve been in. I think it’s because they understand kids feel scared going to the hospital and the staff are trained to do whatever it takes to make patients feel comfortable. But many adults are scared and anxious at the hospital, too, even if they don’t show it. No matter your age, the whole staff goes out of their way to make you and your family feel comfortable. As the general manager of a hotel, I live and breathe customer service, so that level of care is really important to me.

How was your recovery?

My recovery was really fast — I think it even surprised my doctors. I think part of the reason I recovered so quickly was because I’ve always been active and was in good shape before the surgery. I actually ran 7.5 miles the day before my operation and went on a three-mile run about two to three weeks after surgery.

How do you feel now?

I feel great. I’ve noticed since the surgery my stamina is much better and I don’t get as tired after working out. I still run most days, though in the winter, it’s mostly inside on a treadmill. I usually log in about six to seven miles every morning before work.

What has having a heart condition taught you?

Life is precious and the body is resilient. Being born with an abnormal heart does not mean you cannot live a normal life.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I’m really close to my family, and in fact, my early surgeries inspired my older sister to become a pediatric heart surgeon.

We are proud to serve a broad and diverse patient population that often comes to us for answers they can't find anywhere else. This top ranking is a credit and a tribute to our extraordinary and deeply committed clinicians, researchers and so many others who dedicate every day to improving and advancing the health and well-being of all children.

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