It’s been a busy month for us, and that’s probably been reflected in the sparseness of posts on the blog. Things in general have been very good, and our time has been full of things we’ve enjoyed tremendously.

While there are several things to post (and indeed I’ll try to back-post several benedictions later today), I wanted to go ahead and post our “big news” for the month. This is the text of an email we sent out after returning from the cardiologist on Monday evening. We are appreciative of everyone’s support and encouragement so far, and will certainly keep everyone updated who wants to know. If you did not receive the email and want to get the most up-to-date information, let me know and I can put you on that list

Blessings to all

We hope this email finds you all well. Many of you know that last November, Katie visited her cardiologist for a routine checkup. During that visit, the echo cardiogram results showed an elevated pressure gradient across her aortic valve. Because this particular test tends to overestimate the pressures within the heart, the cardiologist advised us that the levels were high enough that a heart catheterization procedure should be scheduled in order to accurately test the pressures and give us more information about how to proceed. Earlier this month, we went to Dallas for Katie to have the heart cath, and today we visited the cardiologist to discuss the results.

The cardiac cath procedure showed some levels that were concerning to both the surgeon who performed the procedure and Katie’s personal cardiologist. The pressure gradient across the aortic valve was 51mmHg, which was significantly higher than the previous cardiac cath she had when she was 18. Katie’s cardiologist indicated this number in itself is not critical, though on its own it would be on the borderline to think about action. The more concerning number to them was the diastolic ventricle pressure, which was 18mmHg, approximately two to three times the normal level. This is caused by the narrowing of the outflow passage leading to the aortic valve. There were also indications of a thickening of the muscle around the left ventricle, evidence of the heart working harder to overcome the increased pressure. (Sorry to the medical professionals reading this email – we’re doing the best we can! We have a copy of the results, for those interested).

Due to the combination of these two elevated numbers, Dr. Fryer recommended Katie undergo a valve replacement known as a Ross procedure which will replace her aortic valve with her own pulmonary valve, then replace her pulmonary valve with a pulmonary valve from a cadaver. As part of the procedure, the doctors would also widen the path leading to the valve itself, thereby reducing the pressure within her left ventricle. While Dr. Fryer said there was no immediate emergency, he recommended having the procedure as soon as possible, no later than this summer.

For those of you who are unaware, Katie was born with a congenital heart condition called sub-aortic stenosis. While aortic stenosis is relatively common in elderly people, it is rare in children. Dr. Fryer has followed Katie since she was ten, and has overseen both her previous surgeries.

Next week we plan on speaking to a cardiac surgeon dealing in congenital heart issues who Dr. Fryer recommended to perform the actual valve replacement. At this point, we are planning on trying to schedule the procedure for sometime early this summer, likely in June. Katie continues to remain asymptomatic, and this procedure will prevent future damage to her heart and valve. We will keep everyone up to date as we learn more information.

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