Stories about: Pedro del Nido

Guatemalan teen with congenital heart defect inspired to study medicine

Juan PabloAs a child growing up in Guatemala, Juan Pablo was told by his parents that he was born with a little hole in his heart that was patched up. “It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I figured out that what I had was not that simple.“

Juan Pablo was born in 1995 with Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF), a condition involving four different congenital heart defects. With no pediatric cardiac surgeons in Guatemala at the time, Juan Pablo’s parents took their newborn son to Switzerland for treatment, which included open heart surgery to remove his pulmonary valve. He went on to lead a normal, healthy childhood.

As he matured, Juan Pablo began to ask questions about his condition and his past. He found out that his surgery in Switzerland was performed by Aldo Castañeda, MD, a native of Guatemala who had retired in 1992 as Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital. Juan Pablo also discovered that Castañeda was back in Guatemala running the country’s first pediatric cardiac care program at Unidad de Cirugia Cardiovascular Pediatrica de Guatemala (UNICARP).

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Our patients’ stories: Hunter’s heart journey

By Wendy Paulin

Hunter as a baby

As a parent, when you look at your newborn, it’s hard not to get swept up by all the possibilities that lie ahead. Your child has the world ahead of him—you can’t help but wonder what life’s adventures have in store. That feeling of unlimited potential is why Dr. Seuss’s, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” is such a big hit in our family, both for my four boys and myself. But when I read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” to my youngest son, Hunter, the words took on a whole new meaning. As I read him the story and shared the bright, beautiful artwork with him, I couldn’t help but feel a knot inside when I came to the part where things don’t go as planned.

As Seuss so wisely writes, “There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much, you won’t want to go on.” As a mother you do everything in your power to protect or guide your child away from the road Seuss describes, but in some cases you just can’t. That was very true for Hunter.

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One patient’s story: our baby’s multiple heart defects

Roman was born with several heart defects, which required intensive medical attention and surgery

My husband Tim and I had been unsuccessfully trying for another baby for some time. Then, right around Mother’s Day, we got the present we’d been hoping for, a positive pregnancy test. The first few months were filled with joy and anticipation, but a scheduled ultrasound during my 19th week changed everything. The sonogram showed our son had a heart defect. As an intensive care nurse married to a physician, I knew how dangerous this could be. When they administered my amniocentesis— a test for genetic disorders that may be the cause of our baby’s heart condition—I was so numb that I didn’t even feel the needle go in me. The results showed no traceable cause; a twist of fate with no scientific reason.

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