Feb. 5, 2013
/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advances in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery have allowed children born with heart defects to grow into adulthood. A
, mom is a testament to the importance of pediatric specialists continuing to care for these adults and their complex hearts.
, 32, was born with Tetralogy of Fallot and had open heart surgery soon after birth. She underwent another operation at age 5 to receive a donor pulmonary valve and then enjoyed a normal childhood despite having to limit physical activity, which caused her to feel light-headed or nauseous. Ashley married, moved to
and delivered a baby, Bailey, in 2007.
Ashley continued to see cardiologists annually for her heart defect. By the time her child was 3, Ashley grew tired and lethargic, but dismissed her symptoms as the result of juggling work and family. After struggling to conceive a second child and still not feeling like herself, Ashley's OB/GYN recommended she see experts at Le Bonheur's Children's Hospital's Heart Institute. Pediatric Cardiologist Ryan Jones, MD, found that one part of her heart was enlarged, and an artery was smaller than normal. A large percentage of the blood being pumped to the lung arteries was regurgitating back into the right ventricle, the pumping chamber for the blood going to the lungs.
"It made sense why I was so tired. And why I couldn't have a second baby," said Ashley. "My heart couldn't handle a pregnancy."
Jones, along with Le Bonheur cardiologists
, MD, and
, MD, thought Ashley would be a perfect candidate for the Melody valve — a new device that could help her and eliminate the need for a donor valve. The Melody® valve is a valve harvested from a cow's jugular vein and sewn into a large stent. This valved stent is then delivered through a vein in the leg or neck to the heart and then expanded and implanted with a large angioplasty balloon catheter. It is primarily intended for use in patients who have undergone multiple surgeries that include using donor grafts to connect the right ventricle to the pulmonary arteries. The valve is indicated when these donor grafts or valves fail.
"Ashley was an excellent candidate for the Melody® valve because her donor valve was no longer functioning, her right ventricle was enlarged, she was symptomatic," Waller said. "This procedure prevented her from having to have open heart surgery."