MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - As part of FOX 9’s 12 Days of Giving campaign, Alix Kendall met a mother and her young son who share the same heart condition.
It’s a problem being solved by pediatric cardiologists at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital where one doctor has formed a special bond with his tiny patient and his family.
The sound of a beating heart is something many of us take for granted, but for Trish Hetland and her soon-to-be 3-year-old son, it’s a gift made possible by medical technology.
Hetland was born with a heart condition called pulmonary and aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of both pulmonary and aortic valves.
“I think having being born with it myself helped me deal with it a little bit, deal with the fact that he had it, because, I’m still here and I knew it was going to be OK,” Hetland said.
They call him Dr. Matt, but Dr. Matt Ambrose is a highly-skilled pediatric cardiologist at Masonic Children’s Hospital.
“We do really high-level catherization in tiny, tiny babies and it’s something that just ins’t available in a lot of centers in the United States and it makes me proud,” Ambrose said.
Tiny babies like John had heart surgery at just 3 months old. The surgery opened up a valve in his heart, which is technology that wasn’t available when Hetland was a baby. She has had two open heart surgeries and has a metal heart valve.
“The doctors are amazing, they are incredible,” she said. “We are so blessed to have Masonic Children’s and the U of M here with the technology and the hearts they have here and the care they have for their patients, it’s just incredible, it’s been a huge blessing to our family.”
“I did a special kind of balloon, valvuloplasty, a special IV up through his leg with a balloon deflated at the end of it and it expanded the balloon and it opened that up. It was beautiful,” said Ambrose.
“You’re able to make that kind of impact with small course corrections in children who are that sick and you fix them and their life is so different now. It fills me with this warm little feeling,” Ambrose added.
Hetland loves to read to her son, but like any typical toddler, John prefers moving around and jumping. Thanks to Ambrose, the bouncing boy’s heart has no problem keeping up with his feet.
Ambrose says, someday in the future, maybe 20 or 30 years from now, stem cells from patients may be used to grow their own heart valves, which would be a game changer someday for John.
If you would like to help, visit our 12 Days of Giving crowdfunding page on the University of Minnesota’s website. You can see how much we’ve raised and know your generosity is going to help save and change lives.
FOX 9’s 12 Days of Giving started on Sunday, Dec. 1 and runs through Thursday, Dec. 12.