Saturday, September 02, 2006

Nicholas Mathews is my grandson. Nicholas was born with a congenital heart defect. However, his defect was not detected until he was 4 ½ years old. An emergency room doctor heard a murmur when we took Nick in to the ER for a severe stomach ache. Our pediatrician had never heard the murmur. Less than two months after the ER visit, Nicholas had open heart surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to correct a hole in the atrial septum and a cleft in the mitral valve.

By the time Nick’s defect was found, his heart was enlarged from overwork. The doctors told us that if Nick’s defect had not been found, he would have been one of those kids that collapse and die on the playground or ball field. Nicholas continues to have a problem with mitral valve regurgitation. While the doctors knew that he might have a recurring problem with the valve, they were disappointed and surprised that it happened within a few months of his repair. Nick takes medication to prolong the time before he will need another surgery to repair or replace his mitral valve. After five years, the medicine is still doing its job and Nick is able to lead a happy and active life.

Nicholas goes to the cardiologist every 6 months for an echocardiogram. His mitral valve leakage, turbulence in his aorta, and the size of the ventricles are watched carefully. While Nick appears to be handling his heart problems, the doctors know that things can change very quickly.

Like most people, our family had no knowledge of congenital heart defects before our loved one was diagnosed with one. Because I don’t want anyone to feel as alone and scared as we were, I now work to provide support to families of children who are fighting the battle against chd. Because of Nicholas, I want to spread awareness of congenital heart defects.

Thank you.

Cheri Roe

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