I’m Heather and I was born in Altnagelvin in September 1986. I was born with Pulmonary Atresia and an atrio-septal defect. This wasn’t noticed until one of the midwives came to do a deed shortly after I was born. She noticed that I was blue and quickly bleeped the on call pediatric doctor. Luckily, he had just finished a rotation at the Royal and had worked with babies with heart conditions. He carried out an ECG and made the diagnosis that it was in fact CHD and I should be transferred to the Royal. I was baptised in the hospital as the doctors didn’t think I would survive the surgery.
My first surgery at 9 days old was open heart and I had a procedure known as a pulmonary valvotomy. My second surgery was at 25 days old and I had a blalock-tussock shunt placed.
They tried to close the shunt when I was 4 years old but this was unsuccessful. Another attempt to close it was made when I was 11 this was success. Since then I have been monitored closely by the ACHD team at the RVH, Belfast.
Around 10 years ago I had a suspected TIA and after some investigations it came to light that I still had a hole between the two chambers of the heart. The hole would open when the heart was under stress thus meaning my blood was clotting at the hole and then being pumped to the brain. Leading to the TIA. Furthermore, around that time it was found that my pulmonary artery was considerably narrower than what it should have be and the decision was made to widen it by placing a stent. This procedure is normally carried out through the groin, but this was not possible as I don’t have any vessels in my legs that are able to take a catheter and was therefore done by going through my neck. That was an experience!!
Since then I have an MRI every year and a treadmill test every other year. In the future have I will require a replacement valve, but for now I am doing well, enjoying married life and attending annual appointments with Dr Lockhart and the ACHD team!