Author: Ellen Greenlaw

Helping heart patients overcome developmental issues

Focus on Boston Children's Cardiac Neurodevelopmental Program
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PATRICK BIBBINS/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

If you have a child with congenital heart disease (CHD), you’re likely well-versed in the medical issues your child may face. But many parents don’t realize their children born with CHD may also be at risk for developmental problems.

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Having Faith: A novel approach to heart surgery

Faith, who had heart surgery for pulmonary atresia using her own umbilical cord as a shunt, poses in a chair. When Rachel and Rudy Fasano of New Haven, Connecticut learned they were having their first baby after three years of trying, they were overjoyed, as were their families. At Rachel’s 15-week ultrasound to learn their baby’s sex, both grandmothers were also in tow, eager to hear the news. But the visit delivered some unexpected results.

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Zaire’s superpowered heart: ‘I am Iron Man’

Zaire, who had surgery for scimitar syndrome, poses in Boston Children's rooftop garden.
PHOTOS: SOPHIE FABBRI/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

What do a 4-year-old from Brockton, Massachusetts and Marvel’s superhero Iron Man have in common? A lot more than you might think.

Iron Man faces a heart injury that nearly kills him, but creates a suit of armor that protects his heart and gives him superpowers. Zaire was born with scimitar syndrome, a rare condition in which the heart grows differently than normal. While he wears no armor, Zaire has developed his own superpowers — boundless energy and a super dynamic personality — after undergoing a new procedure to fix his heart at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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Lessons from the Tin Man: Christopher follows his heart

Christopher, who was born with TGA and other heart defects, poses in the rooftop garden at Boston Children's.
PHOTO: SOPHIE FABBRI/BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

When it comes to movies, 26-year-old Christopher Smith loves horror films. He counts It FollowsHush and Insidious among his top three. But his favorite movie of all time? The Wizard of Oz.

“I feel pretty connected to the Tin Man,” he says with a laugh.

Like the Tin Man, Smith has spent a lot of time thinking about his heart. Born with a number of complex heart conditions, including transposition of the great arteries (TGA), an atrial septal defect (ASD), a ventricular septal defect (VSD), complete heart block, congestive heart failure and dextrocardia, he’s had multiple surgeries and spent lots of time in the hospital.

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