February is Heart Month; a time to bring attention to the importance of cardiovascular health and also spread even more awareness about Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). This is something that is very important to our family because Asta is a Heart Warrior herself and she’s been going through this journey since she was 5 days old, as that was the day when we found out that there’s something wrong with our baby’s heart.
Over the years, I’ve shared many facts about congenital heart defects and what it means to live with them. While there are many different conditions out there with different outcomes, Asta’s heart defect is called Tricuspid Atresia. It’s when a valve (tricuspid valve) between two of the heart’s chambers isn’t formed. Instead, there’s solid tissue between the chambers, which restricts blood flow and causes the right lower heart chamber (ventricle) to be underdeveloped.
A baby, child or adult with Tricuspid Atresia can’t get enough oxygen through its body. People with this condition tire easily, are often short of breath and might have blue-tinged skin. Tricuspid atresia is treated with multiple surgeries. And luckily, most babies with tricuspid atresia who have surgery live well into adulthood, though follow-up surgeries are often needed.
All of that said, the time has come for Asta’s third open-heart surgery this upcoming Tuesday (Feb 2nd, 2021). This procedure, called Fontan, will create a pathway to send blue/deoxygenated blood to the lungs so that a pumping chamber/ventricle is not required to do this work. The remaining one ventricle is used to send red/oxygenated blood to the body. After the Fontan procedure, she will have a heart that functions with one pumping chamber/ventricle instead of 2, this is called a “functional single ventricle”.
I’m hoping you can send positive thoughts Asta’s way on Tuesday and keep your fingers crossed for a swift recovery. We’re nervous, but mostly proud of our warrior because she’s only shown us how brave and strong she is.
Just a few resources out of many to learn more about CHDs if interested:
Looking to donate, support CHD programs and encourage research? You can do so by donating to Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance by CLICKING HERE.