I was born with several heart abnormalities that were discovered when I was only three months old. The technical diagnosis was total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR), which means the blood vessels that connected to my lungs (pulmonary veins) were attached to the wrong place in my heart. Normally, oxygen-rich blood goes from the lungs to the upper left heart chamber (left atrium) and then flows through the body. With TAPVR, an abnormal connection of veins sends blood through the upper right heart chamber (right atrium) instead, where it mixes with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, blood flowing to the body doesn't have enough oxygen. As you can imagine, this caused a host of issues for my little body including having a hard time breathing, a heart murmur, and blue lips, skin and nails.
When I was two, I had open-heart surgery and my outstanding surgical team used synthetic material to patch the defect and “reroute” the blood flow. In 1986, this approach was far from a "certain success". In reality, it as more of a hail mary. 35 years later, I love meeting new cardiologists as they never fail to awe over how “funky” my heart is.
I am lucky enough to have no serious complications in my adult life. But I spent most of my youth in and out of hospitals. It gave me a first-hand view of not only what medical technology does, but of what it has the potential to do. It's why as Chief Operating Officer of MassMEDIC, I dedicate my time working to get lifesaving technology into the hands of skilled physicians.
Have a heart and help me reach my goal with a donation today!