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TOF, Corrected 1967

I was born in May,1958, as a "BLUE BABY". I was diagnosed with a cyanotic congenital heart disease, Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). At the age of one I had a Potts shunt. I did quite well until the age of nine years when it became necessary to have open heart surgery with closure to the shunt. I was admitted to the hospital on my birthday, May, 1967. I had a total cardiopulmonary bypass. Post-operatively, I did fine until I went into shock which was followed by coma. I had the same symptoms earlier that year when I had a cardiac catheterization. Since my surgery I have lived a pretty normal life. As a child and teenager, I tried to physically keep up with my peers. Basically, I tried to do it all, but found that I did have some limitations. Our family decided to move to Colorado from Texas, and there I learned about altitude. It did take a toll on me, but in time, I did become acclimated. I skied, ice skated, rode many miles on my bike (up steep hills), walked, and hiked. Sometimes, I did have to stop and let my heart stop racing, but once it slowed down, I was at it again. I truly believe that my heart became stronger because of this. I did not push myself. I was really proud when I worked for the National Forest Service and planted tree seedlings on Snowmass Mountain. Especially when we finally got up to 12,000 feet and I was like everybody else....moving slowly. My point is, that I was like everybody else!!!

In October of 1985, I learned of a real challenge. I became pregnant. My husband I had already come to the realization that I may not be able to have children and had accepted that. But as luck would have it, we got pregnant!!! I was not only in need of an OB/Gyn but also a cardiologist. Both would work with each other, when need be. My pregnancy was very normal up to the last trimester. At about 7 weeks before I was due, my doctor ran a test to check for diabetes and I checked positive for gestational diabetes. I also started having quite a few migraines along with swelling in my feet. Six weeks before our son was due, I started going into labor. My doctor did a sonogram and an amniocentesis to check if he was mature enough to be delivered. I was also diagnosed with preeclampsia and toxemia. After receiving the results from the amniocentesis I was given the go to deliver our son. Approximately 3 hours later, I delivered a 4 lb 6 oz very healthy boy, March 30, 1986. To make note, I did have a vaginal delivery! The doctors checked him out thoroughly and did not show signs, nor has he yet shown signs of any heart problems. I was discharged two days after delivery, and our son, who was premature, had to stay for a week in the neo-natal unit in order to get his weight up. He was fully developed, however he did have a time getting his sucking reflexes. Once he learned that, he immediately began gaining weight. He was our miracle.

In November 1996, I had Arterial Femoral bypass surgery. Of course I was way too young to be having this type of problem. I think that it stemmed from a combination of events: smoking, diabetes (diagnosed May ?97), small body frame and cut downs from my open heart surgery, in 1967. I am proud to say that I no longer smoke, and I exercise daily and eat healthier. I plan on living and walking a long time.

I currently do not have many complications with the heart. I have had, and continue to have heart palpitations. But I just learn to live with it. As for the rest of my life, I am a daughter, wife and mother. My hobbies are photography, singer/songwriter, playing the guitar, camping, and watching my son play sports. I work part- time as a bookkeeper/administrative assistant for a small company.

We (TOF patients) are fortunate to have had the doctors to help us, and also learn from each one of us. The disease is still a mystery, and learning continues.

? Laura W. G. (Texas)

This article was last updated on April 14, 2001

  • Born:  May 22, 1958
  • Diagnosis:  Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Treatment:  Potts shunt and total correction


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