Michael was born in July of 2000. During his one week check-up with my midwife, she detected a loud heart murmur and recommended that we see a pediatrician right away. (We could hear the loud swishing just holding our ears to his chest!) Our pediatrician confirmed the heart murmur and recommended that we see a cardiologist at Hershey Medical Center as soon as possible. I remember making the phone call to Hershey; the receptionist told me that it would take several months to get in…then she double checked with the cardiologist and said we could be seen in a few days. I think at this point I started to realize that something serious could be going on!
During our first appointment with Dr. Weber at Hershey, we felt like we were in a fog or dream…my husband and I were both stunned to hear that our son was going to need open heart surgery. He seemed to be a healthy, chubby baby boy, although very sleepy and hard to wake for feedings.
Michael was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. Dr. Weber wanted to give Michael as much time as possible to grow before the surgery; his goal was to see if we could get him to 6 months old and schedule surgery then. We had many, many check-ups those first several months to make sure his oxygen levels were good. We had people all over the world praying for him, specifically for his oxygen levels to stay high and for him to have nice, large arteries. His oxygen never went below the high 90’s and his surgeon, Dr. Myers, said he had nice, large arteries (making his job a bit easier).
Michael’s open heart surgery was in January of 2001, when he was 5 1/2 months old. His recovery went smoothly and we brought him home 6 days later. He has had yearly check-ups since then and has been an active, “normal” boy. Michael celebrated his 14th birthday in July and continues to be an amazing kid! He inspires us, and has always faced everything with a positive attitude; it is hard to be a teenager and be different–to have limitations that others his age don’t have. He is not a fan of having to wear the Holter monitor! Michael will face another surgery in the next couple of years. He has always had leaky valves and a slightly enlarged heart due to overcompensation for the valves leaking. When the doctors feel that it is time, he will have the valves replaced. We feel so fortunate that our road has been relatively easy compared to some of our other dear Hershey Heart families. The Hershey Heart picnics have been a blessing to us & Michael. It is great to be surrounded by other kids like him for a day!