Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'd Like to Introduce You....

to Owen.

Owen is a cute-as-a-button toddler, just shy of his second birthday. His Mommy and I met in an online pregnancy forum; our boys were born just a few weeks apart, and as a bonus, we are both Louisiana families. He's got all the bustling energy a happy little dude should have, and then some.

Here's the thing, though: you'd never know it from his bright eyes and big smile (and off-the-charts height!), but Owen was born with congenital heart disease. He has a constellation of heart defects known as Shone's Complex.

At 19 days old, Owen had closed-heart surgery to repair aortic coarctation. The surgeons successfully performed an end-to-end anastomosis (in regular English, they cut the narrow section of his aorta out, and sewed the remaining two sections back together). He has defects in both his mitral and bicuspid valves. Every six months, Owen undergoes testing to check the efficiency of those valves, and when the gradient reaches a certain level,a procedure is done - balloon valvuloplasty, if you like medicalese - to reopen the valve. At three months, Owen needed that procedure. Despite the fact that his mitral valve is "funky looking" (according to his surgeon), it's getting the job done for now, which is a blessing.

Unfortunately, Owen will be undergoing open-heart surgeries in the future. He will inevitably require more valvuloplasties, and when they have caused enough leakage in the valve, they will have to repair it. Once the repairs no longer hold, the valve will need to be replaced. The hope is that Owen won't need these replacements until he is at least 12. If he should need one before then, the procedure is much more complicated and will ultimately disease another of his heart valves. The Ross procedure would replace his aortic valve with his pulmonary valve, and replace his pulmonary valve with a replacement tissue valve. So as you can imagine, while Owen is doing beautifully for the time being, he and his family know that there is likely to be a bumpy road ahead.

Why do I think it's so important for you to meet Owen?

Owen is a patient of Children's Hospital of New Orleans. The proceeds from the New Orleans Jazz Half Marathon benefit Children's, and I am proud to be running for Owen. My participation and any fundraising I am able to do along with it helps assure that Children's will be able to continue to provide quality care for Owen and others in need. Soon, I should have details as to how YOU can help, even if you never lace up a shoe or run a single step.

I'm running in the hope that Owen will always be able to run.

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