This story reflects one person's experience. Not everyone will experience the same results. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of your treatment options.
Mason was born with a hole in his heart that was surgically repaired when he was one month old. At the same time, doctors put in a pacemaker to regulate his heart rate. A year later, Mason's family learned he had a leaky heart valve.
Doctors first worked to correct Mason’s leaky valve with medication, but eventually determined he needed to have the valve repaired surgically.
When it came time for surgery, Mason's team of cardiologists determined a virus he had been fighting had weakened his heart valve considerably and repairing the leaky valve was not enough. Instead, Mason needed total heart valve replacement.
The last-minute change in procedure and Mason’s urgent condition meant Mason's parents did not have time to conduct research on treatment options. Instead, they put their trust in Mason's medical team to provide information and answers.
The cardiologists were confident Mason would benefit from a mechanical valve because of its higher success rate for someone in Mason’s condition. Surgeons kept Mason in the intensive care unit (ICU) for two weeks before surgery to help strengthen his heart. After he had regained some strength, a very small mechanical valve designed for a patient Mason's size was implanted.
Mason stayed in the hospital for nine days after his surgery
Today, Mason is on a Vitamin K-restricted diet and takes warfarin to prevent blood clots. His family helps monitor his blood clotting levels once a week, makes sure he gets his medications twice a day, pays close attention to his diet and is on alert in case he experiences excessive bleeding.
Being a Kid
Just three hours after surgery, Mason was trying to sit up in bed. His resilience was impressive, but he still needed time to heal. Two months after surgery, he had a minor stroke. It was a setback, but Mason recovered fully.
Today, Mason is doing very well. His mother, Brandi, describes him as a "rough and tough little boy" who runs, jumps and climbs. Occasionally, he gets heavy nosebleeds, but his mother stresses that the family, “Can’t put him in bubble wrap. He still needs to be a boy and experience normal things.” Mason avoids contact sports and takes other precautions.
Mason takes his situation in stride. “He was born with this; it’s all he’s ever known,” Brandi says.
“He’s done so well,” she continues. “He has a pacemaker and is 100% paced. I look at him and realize he’s only eight years old but he's been through so much. If not for the pacemaker and valve, he wouldn’t be here. I’m thankful for how far he’s come and for the person he is today. He’s just like a miracle.”
Doctors check Mason every year. He will need surgery again when he outgrows his valve. Brandi continues to research Mason’s condition on the Internet and hopes for new advancements to keep her son strong and healthy.
Last Reviewed: January 19, 2010 2506