Sarah would be 20 years old now, a young woman. When I spoke to her she was just half that age and facing surgery. Sarah's Mom contacted the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation when they learned that Sarah was going to need surgery. A bright, athletic girl, Sarah began to have headaches. Doctors found she had high blood pressure, and further searching found both a bicuspid aortic valve and coarctation of her aorta. Sarah's Grandfather also had coarctation, they were not sure if had a BAV or not.
Here is a video from Children's Hospital of Cincinnati that explains what coarctation of the aorta is:
I spoke to Sarah's Mom first, and then she asked me if I would speak to Sarah too. What did I say to this beautiful, brave 10 year old girl before her surgery? I told her that she would be just fine, and that she was very special. I also remember speaking to Sarah after she was out of the hospital. She did indeed do well, very seriously telling me that she was in the hospital for a very long time. If it is an eternity for adults, what must it seem to a child. They all so desperately want to go home.
I have not heard from this family for 10 years now, but I remember them fondly. I hope Sarah as an adult is experiencing all that life should hold for a bright, active young woman. I hope she has wonderful doctors and keeps her check up appointments faithfully, both for her aorta and her BAV.
Father Prodromos and Coarctation
More recently, Father Prodromos sought help from the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation. He was just a tiny tot when he had his first surgery, for coarctation of the aorta. In the intervening years, he has had three additional surgeries: BAV replacement, prosthetic valve and aneurysm replacement, and repeat surgery on the coarctation site. Father Prodromos' last two surgery experiences are described at the links below.
Father Prodromos - My Journey of the Heart
Father Prodromos - My Journey of the Heart Continues
It is very common for those born with coarctation to also have BAV. May these accounts of those needing help first as children give hope to those today who must cope with this, no matter what their ages.