Dr. David Hoganson has a lot more in common with his patients than many of them realize.
"I was diagnosed with a large ventricular septal defect (VSD) at 1 month old, and was medically managed with the goal of getting me to age 2 for surgery," he says. "We lived in Colorado at the time, and the program there did not close VSDs in infants."
When he was just 16 months old, it became clear he wasn't going to make it two years, and Hoganson underwent open-heart surgery.
That was just the beginning. "It was 1976. They didn't have echocardiograms, and catheterization had indicated one large VSD, which they closed during surgery," he says.
A few days later, his condition deteriorated. "When they did another catheterization, they saw that the large hole was closed, but there were many many other holes across the entire muscular septum," he says. "I was brought back into surgery and they patched the entire septum to close all of the holes. It's not how we would do it now, but I give my surgeon a lot of credit for quickly coming up with a creative solution for what remains a very complicated problem."
Hoganson aims to bring that same creative problem-solving to his own work as a cardiac surgeon at the Heart Center. Trained in electrical engineering, he worked at a medical device company before and throughout medical school, and is passionate about developing creative solutions for difficult problems. Since joining the team at Boston Children's in 2014, he continues to work on medical devices and other research to improve the lives of his heart patients.
"I didn't know it growing up — but now I can really appreciate how close I was to dying," he says. "After that surgery, I totally flew. I have a normal heart size and normal function. That's a huge driver for me, the appreciation of having had a complex defect and being given the chance at a normal life."
Hoganson says the best thing about his job is "the great satisfaction that comes from making children well. It's a joy to do this, and to be able to give back."