Aero Patrickanthony Cordova | Heart Warrior of the Week
(February 19th, 2017 - July 9th, 2017)
Our Heart Warrior of the Week is a very special Heart Angel by the name of Aero Patrickanthony Cordova. Aero’s Mom received the news of his diagnosis at a 20-week appointment. She received another blow of news shortly after he was born – his condition was much more severe than doctors originally thought.
He would eventually be diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, unbalanced AVSD and Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome. For five months, Aero put up an incredible fight against CHD, undergoing three open-heart surgeries, one cardiac catheterization and being placed on ECMO twice.
He had a difficult recovery after his first open-heart surgery; he coded and had to be resuscitated, a terrifying ordeal for any parent to have to witness. His second would prove to be even more heartbreaking. He underwent the Glenn surgery at 4 months old; it went great, but a few days later he coded yet again and was put on ECMO for the second time. Doctors performed a cath procedure to see what was wrong and they discovered he had pulmonary hypertension. Two long weeks went by and he still wasn't able to come off of ECMO, so his doctors decided to do a third open heart surgery – a Glenn reversal. The surgery went well and the doctors tried to extubate him, but the all the trauma he had endured was too much for his little body and he coded again. He went to be with the angels on July 9th, 2017.
“Never being able to take our baby home was very hard. Having a five-year-old daughter and leaving our home to stay at the Ronald McDonald house for almost five months wasn't easy. The hardest part was the constant worry of having to endure more surgeries and procedures. Seeing my sweet baby in pain and not being able to take that pain away… it’s something no parent should ever have to go through.”
Although he spent his entire 4 and a half months of life in the hospital, Aero still found ways to be full of life. His Mom describes him as sweet, happy, strong and loving, saying: “My sweet angel inspires me so much. He was so strong and so happy. He was always smiling despite everything he had been through. We miss Aero so much! He is our little sunshine and we will always cherish the amazing time we had with him.”
Aero still finds ways to let his family know he is with them. His name is pronounced like "arrow," and after he passed away they started noticing arrow decorations everywhere. So naturally, they have a ton of arrows around their house and can often be seen sporting arrows on their clothes!
About Aero’s Defects
Coarctation of the aorta
Anatomy: Narrowing of the aorta - the large blood vessel that branches off the heart and delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body.
Complications: Coarctation of the aorta can lead to narrowing of the aortic valve, high blood pressure, stroke, aortic aneurysm, rupture or tear, premature coronary artery disease, or a brain aneurysm. If the case is severe, patients can enter heart failure or their heart might not be able to pump enough blood to other organs. This can cause damage to the heart and can also result in kidney failure or other organ failure.
Symptoms: Most patients don’t have symptoms, but those that do have pale skin, irritability, heavy sweating, difficulty breathing, difficulty feeding, high blood pressure, headache, muscle weakness, leg cramps or cold feet, nosebleeds, and chest pain.
Treatment: Treatment options include surgery and balloon catheterizations depending on the severity of the condition.
Prevalence: This CHD accounts for 4-6% of all congenital heart defects, occurring in approximately 4 out of every 10,000 live births worldwide. It affects males more than females (59% of cases are in males while 41% are in females).
Anatomy: A combination of defects in the heart that affects both wall between the chambers of the heart and the valves between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. Unbalanced means there is ventricular hypoplasia and malalignment of the atrioventricular junction.
Complications: There are holes between the chambers of the right and left sides of the heart. The valves that control the flow of blood between these chambers may not be formed correctly as well.
Symptoms: Heart murmur, breathing problems, pounding heart, weak pulse, ashen or bluish skin color, poor feeding, slow weight gain, tiring easily, and swelling of the legs or belly.
Treatment: Open-heart surgery is usually required for this defect.
Prevalence: AVSD occurs in approximately 7% of children born CHD. Of these, 7% to 10% are unbalanced.
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome
Anatomy: An extra electrical pathway between the heart's upper and lower chambers causes a rapid heartbeat.
Complications: The episodes of fast heartbeats usually aren't life-threatening, but serious heart problems can occur, like fainting spells and very rarely, sudden death.
Symptoms: In babies - ashen in color, irritability, trouble feeding, rapid breathing. Symptoms in adolescents/adults - sensation of rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats, dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, fainting, fatigue, chest pain, anxiety.
Treatment: Some cases require no intervention, others can restore a normal rhythm with medications or doctor-administered electrical shocks. Some may need catheterization to permanently correct the heart rhythm problem.
Prevalence: Occurs in approximately 0.1 to 3 people per 1000.