Stories about: echocardiogram

Francesca’s story: Beating a heart tumor

Francesca, who was diagnosed with a cardiac tumor before she was born, with herAlthough her parents were warned she might not breathe when she was born, the moment Francesca Durkos came into this world, she let out a gutsy cry.

“It was music to our ears,” says her mom.

Michelle Carino Durkos was 40 weeks pregnant when she learned there was a tumor attached to her unborn daughter’s heart — a tumor so large that doctors near her home in Pensacola, Florida, were unsure if the baby would live.

“It was a shock, because at 20 weeks everything was normal,” says Michelle. “We had a wonderful ultrasound; we saw all four chambers.”

Yet, call it a mother’s intuition, Michelle knew something was wrong.

“The whole pregnancy I had this strange feeling. I didn’t want to upset her, so I’d sleep sitting up, as if she was fragile — as if she was in distress.”

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Video: Caring for kids with congenital heart disease

As Director of Ultrasound Imaging Research at the Heart Center, Dr. Gerald Marx is passionate about advancing non-invasive imaging and its role in diagnosing congenital heart disease.

Many of his patients who were first diagnosed in utero are now going off to college.

“This has become an extraordinarily technological field that we are in,” he says. “But within all that technology has to be the human interaction, the human feeling that the medical system cares about their son or daughter as a person and as a patient.”

Learn more about the Division of Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging.

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Screening athletes for undetected heart problems: What parents need to know now

EKG screening basketball_cropDr. Gian Corrado, a physician in Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine, was an undergraduate playing pick-up basketball when one of his teammates died suddenly on the court. Unfortunately, the young player’s death is not an isolated tragedy.

Every three days, a young athlete somewhere in the U.S. collapses and dies due to an undetected heart problem.

“It’s uncommon,” Corrado says, “but it’s not SO uncommon that it may not touch you. It happens, and we have no effective, efficient way to screen for it.”

The National College Athletic Association’s chief medical officer has suggested it may be useful to routinely perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and possibly other cardiac tests on some collegiate level athletes. A New York Times opinion piece about the issue early in 2016 drew a lot of attention.

But there’s widespread debate in medical circles about such broad usage of EKGs. Why is this so controversial? If it’s such a valuable test, why don’t athletes get routine EKGs?

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Rolensky’s story: saving his heart by fixing his brain


In the fall of last year, a young woman named Gerdline walked into Hospital Saint-Nicholas in Saint-Marc, Haiti, carrying her baby son Rolensky. Only four months old, the boy was in a bad way: thin, breathing rapidly and lethargic, with a bluish tinge to his skin.

Little did Gerdline know as she crossed the hospital threshold that Rolensky’s heart was failing—because of a one-in-a-million blood vessel malformation in his brain. Nor did she know that the two of them would soon be on a plane to Boston, where doctors from across Boston Children’s Hospital would come together around her boy to save his heart by fixing his brain.

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