Tag: Pediatric surgery

Shielding My Daughter’s Heart

A couple of years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl, Ada. She looked perfect, but the doctors told me she had a significant heart murmur. When I held her in my arms at night I could hear blood rushing through a hole in her heart that shouldn’t have been there.

My husband and I took Ada to a pediatric cardiologist, who said she would probably need surgery to close that hole. For an entire year of tests and hospital visits, we lived in fear that open heart surgery was just around the corner. And then one day it was. “It’s time,” the cardiologist declared, “That hole is dangerously impeding her growth.”

Was Open-Heart Surgery Necessary?

I am grateful to live in a time and place in which surgery—even surgery on a heart the size of a golf ball—is an option. This kind of procedure has undoubtedly saved many lives. But it’s not without risks. More than 100,000 people die in this country every year from preventable medical errors. And hospital infections are a serious problem, too. We didn’t like the idea of subjecting a life so new, so tenuous, to a procedure of such magnitude unless there was a clear case for it. I’m not going to sugar coat this: We were talking about sawing open my baby’s ribs and stopping her heart and lungs.