Last updated: May 2023
On April 19, 1973, my young teenage mother was informed by her obstetrician that he saw signs of me being considered a "blue baby" or a baby with limited oxygen flowing throughout my body. He explained to my mother that he felt that I had a hole in my heart, but he wasn't exactly sure if there were any other medical issues related to my heart.
I was born with a hole in my heart
Then, he asked my mother if there were any other family members who had any congenital heart problems. My mother told her obstetrician that her nephew had a hole in his heart but didn't need any medical procedures done.
He stated that my mother needed to make sure to follow up with my pediatrician to have a thorough examination. After the examination, my pediatrician immediately contacted the pediatric cardiology department to set up an emergency appointment. However, the closest appointment to be seen at the Children's Hospital was in September 1973.
Working closely with my pediatric cardiologist
Because the appointment was four months away, my pediatrician offered her medical services 24 hours a day, 7 days to my parents until I was seen by the pediatric cardiologist. On one occasion, I became very ill, so my mother contacted my pediatrician's office, but the nurse explained that she couldn't give my mother an appointment to see me. However, my mother insisted the pediatrician told her that she could bring me to the medical clinic at any time, day or night.
Eventually, the nurse asked my pediatrician, and my pediatrician informed the nurse that my medical health was in grave condition, so I was permitted to see my pediatrician whenever I was sick.
Cardiac catheterization and open heart surgery
In September 1973, a wonderful Korean pediatric cardiologist explained to my young teenage mother that he needed to complete a cardiac catheterization immediately to find out what congenital heart defects I had and what steps he had to take towards the survival of my life.
My mother, who was overwhelmed with the doctor's words, begged the pediatric congenital cardiologist to postpone the cardiac catheterization and a possible open-heart surgery until I turned 6 or 12 months old. You see, I was only 4 months old, and my mother's first child.
That day, the pediatric congenital cardiologist stated that he finished his workday but was willing to stay longer to complete the cardiac catheterization. Finally, he managed to convince my young teenage mother with his calm voice and his persistence in making sure I received the best possible care.
Diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects
After the cardiac catheterization was completed, the pediatric cardiologist returned from the cath lab and informed my young mother that I had tricuspid atresia, pulmonary stenosis, transposition of the great vessels, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, and patent ductus arteriosus. He also informed my mother that I was in grave danger if I didn't receive immediate open-heart surgery.
The doctor insisted that I would need a risky surgery, the Blalock-Taussig-Thomas shunt, that was only 29 years in existence. He explained that the surgery was never performed on a Saturday, but the surgeon, the pediatric cardiac surgeon, was more than willing to perform the surgery on a fall Saturday morning in September 1973. Thankfully, because of the persistence from my mother's obstetrician, my pediatrician, my first pediatric cardiologist, and pediatric cardiac surgeon, I'm living today.
Do you have a heart failure story? Click the button below to share with our community!
Besides heart failure, do you have any other chronic medical conditions?
Join the conversation