15 May, 2010

Congenital Heart Defects are a lifelong issue...

Samuel swam two events with the Branham High school swim team today at the league finals. He swam the breast-stroke leg in the medley relay. The relay team ended last in their heat. I have no idea how they ended in the big picture.

His second event was the third leg of the free-relay. I'm not sure where this relay team ended. It would have been good for everyone if they had ended not at the bottom. For me, I'm just excited that Samuel was able to compete. Two years ago, Samuel wasn't able to swim in the trials (held the day before finals) as he was in the hospital recovering from his second open-heart surgery. That he is swimming on his high school team thrills me no end. That's he's here still to do so is a gift.

Unfortunately, Samuel has had some fainting episodes. The doctors have told us that this is quite common in teens. Usually the doctors would have written this off to that fact. However, due to his congenital heart defect, they want to rule out any potential that an arrhythmia or a leaky pulmonary valve are the cause as this could be cause for sudden death.

There have been about 4 such events in the last 5 months or so. He had one episode a couple of months before his 2008 surgery. He had an episode that one of his teachers said she thought may have been a seizure. Rowena took him to the clinic and they found no issue at that time. He went back to school for swim practice. He had been swimming in the pool and the coach said it looked like he fell asleep in the pool. He went to the hospital on that event and had an EEG, among other tests, to rule out any non-heart related issues.

We had a visit at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital last week to review the tests they want to perform on him to track this down. He will have an MRI of his heart this coming Thursday (20.May). Here is the diagram of how that process may go (this is the doctor's detail to us):

Going down the left branch, they expect no surprises from the MRI, but will gain information about his heart. This will then lead to an electrophysiological (EP) study of his heart—presently scheduled for Friday 21.May—that will allow them to either confirm an arrhythmia and do an ablation to eliminate the problem, or implant a cardiac defibrillator, ICD.

In the case that they cannot confirm the arrhythmia, the right side of the left branch in the above diagram, they will implant a "Reveal" monitor under his skin on his chest which will be there for about one and a half years. He would go in on occasion so that they can download the data collected by that device to see if they can spot any events that may be correctable or of note.

The right branch of the above diagram is not desirable. If the MRI indicates an enlarged heart, the doctors will need to do another open heart surgery. The doctor told us that the likely cause of the fainting and the enlarged heart would be a leaky pulmonary valve. In this case, they would look to operate to replace that. Below that on the diagram, they would look to do follow up EP studies to see if the arrhythmia has been controlled.

In case you wonder, his heart, is an amazing heart. Get a hug from him and you'll know what I mean. With that, we start a new phase of Samuel's Heart...


Patty Henderson said...

You are so correct he has an amazing heart and soul. We are rooting and praying for you Samuel.

Jorge Hinojosa said...

Dano -- we are lighting candles, chanting and cheering Samuel on!!!! Thinking and sending you positive vibes.

Rick & Kelly Allemandi said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you!