July 29th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
“My chest just has a dent.” “Everyone is unique, and this is simply the way I was made.”
This is what I told myself growing up, being unaware that I had a congenital chest wall deformity known as pectus excavatum.
As a sophomore at Temple University in Philadelphia pursuing a marketing degree and with a passion for extreme sports, I didn’t have time to consider that something could be wrong. Then one day, a family member in the medical field urged me to research the impact the dent in my chest could be having on my heart. [...]
July 20th, 2015 · 3 Comments
When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise. During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve – a potentially life-threatening heart condition. [...]
July 8th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
In many ways, Jenny Peterson was like other mothers of young children. She cooked and baked, cleaned and washed clothes, and cheered her children on from the sidelines of their activities. In one significant way, though, Jenny was different: She did all of these things without sight.
Jenny lost her vision in 1976, after having a severe reaction to antibiotics. "I developed toxic epidermal necrolysis, and lost 100 percent of my skin, my hair and fingernails," says Jenny, a resident of Vermillion, South Dakota. She was just 23 at the time. Her children, just 2 and 5.
The antibiotics were meant to treat a sore throat. But her reaction was life-threatening. It caused Jenny's skin and mucous membranes to blister and peel. It also caused scarring in both of her eyes. She walked out of the hospital after 96 days, alive but functionally blind. "I could see shapes and light, but that was about it," she says. "I could walk around my own home, but I couldn't drive. I couldn't read. I couldn't see my children clearly." [...]
July 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Later, while pushing a cart at a grocery store, the pain returned with more intensity. So Ardis checked in at the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Minnesota. While test results ruled out a heart attack, the team in the Emergency Department scheduled her for a stress test because of the pain she was feeling on exertion. [...]
June 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
As a pediatric cardiology fellow at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brandon Lane Phillips cared for a number of children from Mongolia who had congenital heart defects. Before they went into surgery, he would take a photo of their hands next to his on a white piece of paper. He would do the same again after surgery and before they returned home.
The difference was striking. "In the pictures before heart surgery, you could clearly see a blue cast to their skin. After surgery, the blue was gone," he says. "That really hit home for me."
It made an impact because Dr. Phillips is not only a physician who specializes in pediatric cardiology, he's also been a pediatric cardiology patient.
"Many of the kids who came to us from Mongolia had the same heart defect I did: tetralogy of Fallot," he says. "They were often close to their teenage years and had never undergone surgery. These children were usually quite blue. They couldn't walk very far. It was a glimpse of what would have happened to me without the medical attention I received. [...]
June 24th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Gloria and her husband, Floyd, were camping in South Dakota in August 2013, when her body’s temperature skyrocketed to 104.6 degrees, and her body went limp. She went from enjoying her time at a campground to being paralyzed from the neck down.
She was diagnosed with West Nile virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Most people infected with West Nile virus experience a slight fever or a mild headache. Gloria was in the minority – less than one percent – of people affected neurologically by the virus. She ended up being admitted to an intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Because of her paralysis, Gloria needed a ventilator to breathe. [...]
June 12th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
If Ty Wiberg, a 13-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has one guiding principle in life, that might be the one.
The Chippewa Falls Middle School student has undergone 16 surgeries, walks with braces and uses a wheelchair for distance. Ty was born with spina bifida, a spinal cord malformation. He also suffers from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain for which a tube-like shunt drains excess fluid. And he has limited sensation from the knees down, among other issues.
Not that any of that is slowing him down.
Ty mono-skis, distance races with his wheelchair, scuba dives, plays wheelchair basketball, swims and does karate. This past winter, he spent a week at a downhill ski camp in Colorado for kids with disabilities and injured veterans. This spring, he recently received his black belt in karate. [...]
June 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment
Born with five congenital heart defects and suffering through several medical complications, Courtney needed both a new heart and a new liver. Previous surgeries at ages 2, 6, 12 and then again at 22, and numerous blood transfusions over the years, had caused her immune system to develop high levels of antibodies that would attack and reject foreign tissues.
She was told that her risk of organ rejection was too high if she received a heart and liver transplant in the usual order. Her Mayo Clinic doctors, however, turned her dire situation into an advantage, and she was one of the first in the world to receive an organ transplant in a way that was likely her only chance to survive. [...]