Genetic defect brings family together

Aleo family credits Dr. Himanshu Patel for expert, compassionate care

Aleo family members wait for Denise Aleo to come out of surgery for a congenital heart defect

Family wears “We Love Team Patel” t-shirts to show support

Support and teamwork take on a whole new meaning with the Aleo family. Their dedication to one another is apparent when you hear their story, which began five years ago and continued at the University of Michigan on April 15, 2013.

On that particular day, 15 members of the family gathered at the hospital to support 53-year-old Denise Aleo as she was wheeled into surgery for a condition shared by her mother, brother, sister, nieces, nephews and other relatives. The condition, called thoracic aortic genetic disorder, is caused by a defect in the SMAD3 gene, and can result in life-threatening aortic issues. It is a topic the family knows all too well.

But it wasn’t just the size of the group that drew attention that April morning. It was also the fact that each member of the Aleo family wore a maize and blue t-shirt shirt that read: “We Love Team Patel.” The words were in reference to University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center surgeon Dr. Himanshu Patel, who would perform surgery on Denise that day.

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