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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

February is Heart Month

February is a special month for us.  We will be posting heart related news and updates as well as opportunities to donate to the American Heart Association and Little Hearts.  Here is why heart month is so important to me:

My wife and I have three young children.  Our middle son, Luke, who just turned 7 years old, has a congenital heart defect known as heart block.  When he was four months old we realized that Luke was having a difficult time breathing at night and that it was extremely hard for him to drink a bottle as he would get winded quickly or break out in a sweat.  He began seeing a cardiologist who identified his disorder as first degree heart block. Heart block is a condition involving the electrical system of the heart. Luke's upper chamber was beating normally but his lower chamber was not.

Within 2 months Luke progressed into complete heart block.  He was hospitalized and had surgery that involved the implantation of a pacemaker.  The hardest think that my wife and I have had to do is to give our 6 month old son over to surgeons. Fortunately, the surgery went well and he was released after a month-long hospital stay at Columbia Presbyterian.

Two weeks later, the area around Luke's pacemaker began to swell and eventually reached the size of a grapefruit. We took him to the local cardiologist who said that he needed to get to the hospital immediately.  He said that fluid was surrounding his heart and that he had roughly 20 minutes before he would die. My oldest son, who was only 3 years old at the time, heard the entire exchange and became very upset.

The doctor called a local ambulance company who refused to travel from NJ to NYC even though we were less than 10 minutes from the City. My oldest son began yelling at the EMT's that if they didn't take his brother to the hospital that he would die. Our cardiologist said that he would drive Luke in himself.  Eventually, the EMTs agreed to take him and we sped off across the GWB with a police escort. 

When we arrived at the Columbia Presbyterian ER, Luke was grey in color and barely breathing. I thought for sure that he was gong to die. Luke was treated in the ER and then place in ICU where he stayed for over two weeks.

Thankfully, our prayers and the doctor's efforts saved Luke.  Today his is a healthy, smart and funny 7 year old. While Luke will require the pacemaker for the rest of his life, my wife and I are so thankful that our son is alive and well.

We are active supporters of congenial heart defects and participate and many walks and charity events. 
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