Birth to Fifteen…Fifteen Heart Walks Completed

imageBorn on a Thursday, June 1, 2000, Lindsey Curtis proved true the old adage, “Thursday’s child has far to go.” We had heard stories that her mother Tammy had been born with a full head of hair so we were not surprised when Lindsey arrived with a full head of chocolate brown curls. At birth she seemed to be a big healthy baby–I do not remember her weight, but she was hefty. Terry and I were fortunate enough to be serving Pembroke Christian Church where her parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin were members at the time of her birth, so on Friday Terry drove to Nashville to see Tammy, John and Lindsey.

He returned home beaming, prayers had been answered, Tammy was doing great and Lindsey appeared to be in perfect health. He said they expectated to be discharged and home the next day.

Appearances can be deceiving.

imageBy afternoon on Saturday June 3rd, Lindsey’s situation had changed. She was transferred to Vanderbilt, diagnosed with coarctation or constriction of the aorta and like 25% to 50% of babies with coarctation of the aorta she also had a bicuspid aortic valve. She would need surgery to prevent her heart from overworking and prevent the hypertension that often occurs when this defect goes undetected. She was scheduled for surgery on Monday, June 5th.

In order to perform the surgery, it was necessary to stabilize Lindsey for the procedure. On the spiritual side, countless prayers were being offered in Lindsey’s name. As is often the case we on the outside knew little about congenital heart defects let alone about Lindsey’s specific diagnosis. Surgery on the tiny heart of an infant seemed so risky, but in her case so necessary.

While notations of coarctation first occurred in autopsies as early as 1740, actual diagnosis was in 1832. But it was Blalock and Park who proposed the first surgical repair in 1944, describing a bypass from the left subclavian artery to the aorta to circumvent the area of narrowing. Crafoord and Nylin performed the first resection with end-to-end reanastomosis in 1945, whereas Gross used homografts to replace the narrowed segments of aorta. In 1966, Waldhausen and Nahrwold performed the first subclavian-flap aortoplasty. More recently, advanced interventional cardiology techniques have led to an interest in percutaneous transluminal aortoplasty for both native coarctation and recoarctation. The end to end anastomosis of the aorta performed on Lindsey came about during the late 1970’s.

A lot of research and experimentation had occurred to bring pediatric cardiac surgery to the point where it was on June 5, 2000. A lot of training and experience brought the surgical team to the point where they were when they entered the operating room and performed an end to end anastomosis. In that procedure, the narrowed area of the aorta may be removed and the two ends re-connected.

From the time of the first notations about coarctation of the aorta to Lindsey’s surgery 260 years had passed with the most rapid advances in diagnosis and treatment occurring in the latter part of the 20th century. The American Heart Association was established first in 1924 by a group of concerned physicians but its public debut came in 1948 and since 1949 it has grown rapidly. It funds research, educates health professionals, and the public in various ways to reduce the risks of heart disease as well as seek new treatments.

imageLindsey came through her surgery and has to grow healthy in body, mind and spirit. Among her activities that I have followed vicariously are dancing, hunting, fishing and walking for the American Heart Association. Since before she could actually walk, she has participated and raised money for heart research on the Annual Heart Walk in Christian County, Kentucky. This year as in years past she has a goal. Let me share her words with you, courtesy of her mother Tammy:

“I’m walking in the American Heart Association’s 2015 Christian County Heart Walk on Feb 21, 2015 and I’ve set a goal of $1500 to raise funds to decrease heart disease and stroke in our community. They are the leading causes of death and disability in the US.

Please support me with a donation. Follow this link to my personal page where you can make a secure, tax-deductible online donation. http://s.heartwalk.org/1zT55ig

Did you know? Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined and 1 in 3 Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease.

Please support me in my efforts – together we can make a difference! “

Have you ever noticed that TOGETHER is how we make a difference. For the first 5 years of Lindsey’s life, Terry and I got to be a part of watching her grow in an up close and personal way. She came to our door on Halloween dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz along side her cousin, Drew (3 months her junior) as the Cowardly Lion. The two of them came forward for the Children’s Sermon as soon as they could walk and participated in the Christmas programs. Both of them loved music, like their Moms and their granddad, Terry Gee.

Drew and Lindsey, Cousins Forever

Drew and Lindsey, Cousins Forever

Before we left Pembroke, there was a Sunday when the congregation sang a song we often did, “God will take care of you.” Lindsey was incensed and ask her mother, “Why was God only going to take of Drew?”

Well, Lindsey, I think everyone who knows and loves you realizes that God has always taken care of YOU and I trust He will continue to do so. So here you are, Lindsey, fifteen years later and as I said in the beginning as a Thursday’s child you still have far to go. I feel sure the journey will be worth it. Know that Terry Kisler and I are praying for a successful WALK on February 21, 2015.

I am going online right now to contribute.

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