There’s something wrong with this baby’s heart, part 2

Following up on Part 1 of the story J’s heart condition …

After he was born, the cardiologist determined Baby A (now know as J) had the following:

Pulmonary atresia, meaning his pulmonary valve (the last valve in the heart before blood goes back to the lungs) was restricted.  In fact, his pulmonary valve was completely sealed over, which meant his right ventricle wasn’t pumping correctly, causing it to be smaller than needed.  It also meant that there was a lot of pressure on the other right-side heart valve, the tricuspid valve.

Ebstein’s Anomaly, which is a malformation of the tricuspid valve.  This problem, plus the extra pressure caused by the pulmonary atresia, was causing some blood to force its way back through the valve (called tricuspid regurgitation).

Atrial Septum Defect, which is a small hole between his atria.  His defect is pretty small, and sort of common.  In the big scheme of things, this is not as big a deal as the other two.

Still with me after all of that?  Of course, you went and read all the information in the links I so dutifully provided, right?  If you did, you’ve got some idea why the cardiologist said we should get credit for our first year of medical school after spending months being exposed to all this jargon.  And I thought lawyers were bad.

feedingjNicuFeeding J for the first time
Nice double baby-ID bracelets, eh?

The first procedure J had was an angioplasty, where they ran a wire up through his vascular system into his heart, and made hole in his sealed pulmonary valve.  Sometimes, this can open up a valve that is simply stuck closed and everything is good.  Not the case here.  While the procedure did allow blood to circulate to the lungs, the opening wasn’t large enough to be effective. So, while he was out of immediate danger, his blood oxygen level was still in the mid 60’s (it should be in the high 90’s).  While a blood ox level that low isn’t life threatening, it needs to be higher for quality of life issues.

kangarooK holding J in the NICU

As I mentioned, there are many levels of corrective procedures available for this issue.  After this first angioplasty, they were able to get a better idea of how blood was flowing through his heart, and how effective his heart was at pumping.  I can safely say that two of the best words I’ve ever read were in a post examination report we received from the cardiologist:

Viable Ventricle

… meaning that his right ventricle was big enough to pump effectively.  Bottom line: he would not need the complete heart re-plumbing procedure that would drastically affected his quality of life.

Thank you Lord.

Since he was stabilized, the doctors wanted to give him a couple of months to grow before his next procedure.  So, after 6 weeks in the NICU, we got to take him home to be re-united him with his twin sister.

AndJA wonders who this new guy is, and when is he leaving?

They would try another angioplasty procedure several months later, punching a larger hole.  While this improved his blood ox levels somewhat, it was still not enough.

cath2Getting J ready for 2nd angioplasty,
complete with tiny, open backed gown
Hopefully he won’t be em-bare-assed
OK, it’s a groaner.  They can’t all be gems.

One complication was that while his heart had been growing with the rest of him, the sealed over pulmonary valve had not, meaning it was restricting the diameter of the area around his pulmonary valve (the xrays they did during the last procedure showed his pulmonary valve area looked like an hourglass … like a tight rubberband around a tube).

There was no way to fix this.  His pulmonary valve had to come out.

I’ll finish up the rest tomorrow in part 3.

Explore posts in the same categories: heart, Kids

2 Comments on “There’s something wrong with this baby’s heart, part 2”

  1. Mark Moreland Says:

    Oh the places you will go! you haven’t changed much except for a little less hair, which is to be expected. You are all in our thoughts and prayers and THANKSGIVING for the fruits of your lives!

    Brent has started Law SChool. He and Amanda adopted a dog to prepare for future parenthood. Deanna and Daniel are furnishing their nest and still on their honeymoon after three months as best I can tell.
    Doris is back to teaching and I am getting my fourth or fifth Job Description and title change in the same church! Love to all and Joy in Christ! Mark

    • imnotned Says:

      Wow, a blast from the past. My former Youth Minister, in the house!

      Brent and Deanna are still little kids in my mind. Marriage, law school, … and possibly grandparenthood in your future?!?

      Ugh. I am old.

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