My family knows the impact of congenital heart disease

When I was 4, I was diagnosed with an ostium primum atrial defect, a hole in the area between the two upper chambers of my heart. I had open-heart surgery at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to repair the heart defect. My brother, Jim, passed away at age of 20 from complications of congenital heart disease, and my daughter, Cassie, 5, had open-heart surgery at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin after being diagnosed with a congenital heart disorder.

Jenni & Cassie

Jenni was born with ostium primum atrial defect (a hole in the heart) and her daughter Cassie also was born with a heart defect.

A few years ago, I had problems with very high blood pressure. My family urged me to see my primary care doctor, who suggested I start by seeing a cardiologist. I immediately called Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

After an appointment with Michael Earing, MD, in the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, I learned I had hypertension as well as coarctation of the aorta, a narrowing of the largest artery in the body. Without treatment, this could have shortened my life. At 37, I had surgery again at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Since then, I have learned to listen to my body and pay attention to things that don’t seem quite right. Now, my daughter and I go to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin every year for checkups.

If you were born with a heart defect, take my advice. See your doctor on a regular basis.

~ Jenni Sego, Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program patient, guest blogger

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