…but I did.
I started researching pediatric open heart surgery. It’s better to be informed, then go blindly along right? Perhaps, but I feel sick to my stomach now. The Cincinnati Children’s site was informative. However, it just doesn’t feel right to think about AJ and read things like this:
Open-heart surgery generally refers to operations performed on the heart that require a patient being placed on the heart-lung bypass machine. The heart-lung bypass machine takes over the function of the heart and lungs to provide oxygenated blood to the body.
The heart can be stopped with a solution called “cardioplegia.”
Cold saline irrigation (salt water) over the heart is used to protect the heart while it is stopped and without its own blood supply.
To get access to the heart, the surgeon has to open the chest; cut through the breast bone (sternum). This is referred to as the sternotomy.
After the chest is opened, a part (or all) of the thymus gland is removed.
The heart sits in a thin, leather like sac called the pericardium. To get access to the heart, the pericardial sac has to be opened. The surgeon often removes a small portion of the pericardium, to be used later to patch holes in the heart.
The risks of bypass itself include inadequate perfusion of organs or tissues, activation of a systemic inflammatory response, and embolization of air or particles.
Both air and clots can break lose and embolize, and can cause a potentially dangerous event such as stroke.
The need for re-operation for bleeding following open-heart operations is low, about 1 to 3 percent.
Atrial septal defect occurs in about 6 percent to 8 percent of all congenital heart defect cases.
Ninety percent of ASDs require no treatment, because they close by 18 months of age.
Some patients require temporary or even permanent pacing.
My heart hurts, my stomach is churning and I’ll go to bed tonight praying for a miracle. Praying that AJ won’t keep dropping down the growth curve, praying that her heart will be perfect the next time they hook her up to a machine, and praying that I never have to sign a paper giving a surgeon permission to stop my baby’s heart, permisson to let them keep her alive on a machine because she is less likely to die THAT way.