Stories about: coarctation of the aorta

Our family’s journey of the heart

Nicolas and twin sister EmmyWhen our son Nicholas was 5 weeks old, we brought him and his twin sister Emmy to our pediatrician for what we thought was a routine well visit. Though the twins had been born four weeks early, Nicholas had only been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a few days with low blood sugar and jaundice. Both babies seemed healthy and we had no major concerns.

However, as we watched our pediatrician listen to Nicholas’ heart and pulse, we realized something wasn’t right. He told us the pulse in Nicholas’ lower extremities was weaker than the pulse in his upper body. He suspected Nicholas might have coarctation of the aorta and referred us to our local heart center, where they confirmed the diagnosis and immediately scheduled us for surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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Experience Journal: ‘Heart defects won’t keep me from reaching my goals’

Emily Ryan was born with coarctation of the aorta and a ventricular septal defect (VSD). But these congenital heart defects have never kept her down. Even though she’s had a pacemaker since age 4, she’s always led an extremely active lifestyle.

Emily’s parents and her team of caregivers from the Heart Center at Boston Children’s Hospital have helped Emily understand her heart condition and have given her the confidence and encouragement to realize her full potential — both in the classroom and on the track.

Now a competitive Division 1 athlete and outdoor leader in college, Emily wants everyone to understand, “Just because you have a congenital heart defect, doesn’t mean you can’t be active or do whatever you want to do.”

The Experience Journals are collections of stories, videos and personal experiences from families about what it has been like to live with their children’s illnesses. This video is part of the Heart Experience Journal, created by the Department of Psychiatry and the Heart Center.

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