Patrick Nolan’s story: Managing congenital heart defect from birth to adulthood

A fix for congenital hearts without another zipper scar

Approximately 40,000 babies are born each year with congenital heart defects — the most common type of major birth defect in the U.S. But, a new valve being used at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Congenital Heart Center is helping patients delay or avoid multiple open-heart surgeries.

Patrick Nolan, left,hiking with friends.

Patrick Nolan, left, hiking with friends.

The new Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve is inserted through a catheter into a vein in the patient’s leg during a heart catheterization, rather than an open-heart procedure. On Sunday, U-M’s Dr. Aimee Armstrong presented data to the American College of Cardiology that reaffirmed the safety and efficacy of the valve, which has been FDA approved for Humanitarian Use Device designation since Jan. 2010. Read here for more details on that presentation. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Congenital Heart Center was the first hospital in the state, and one of the first in the country, approved to use the valve in patients. 

25-year-old Patrick Nolan is one of those patients. Under the care of Dr. Armstrong, Patrick was able to get the heart valve he needed in 2011 without having to undergo yet another open-heart procedure. Today, he is a hard-working med student hoping to become a pediatric cardiologist, in part due to his experience as a cardiac patient and the dedicated doctors he’s met along the way. 

Patrick shares his inspiring story…

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Sharing hope where it’s needed most: A “heart mom” gives back

colleen schomakerLike many parents, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about congenital heart defects.  That changed a little over 13 years ago.  It was then, at my 20 week ultrasound, that it was discovered my unborn baby would be born with a severe heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which essentially meant only half of his heart would be the normal size needed to function.

We learned a lot that day.  We were told that heart defects were the most common birth defect, that I didn’t do anything to cause it, and it was likely a ”fluke.” We learned that his options were limited, his mortality rate was significantly increased and that we could have a lifetime of unknowns and medical care ahead of us. We were told his best chance at survival would be to have one of three open heart surgeries just days after birth.

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