WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - I've had the privilege of working at WLFI for the last year, but it wasn't always my dream I was fighting for.
At one point, I was simply fighting for my life.
I was born in April of 1988 with a heart murmur. When I was just 6 weeks old, the doctor told my parents something no parent ever wants to hear: I had ventricular septal defect.
"Ventricular septal defect, or VSD as we call it, is a defect in the partition between the right and left lower pumping chambers of the heart," said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Parikh.
The defect left me tired, out of breath, and underweight. Parikh said VSD is one of the most common defects among babies, but he said only about one percent of babies are actually born with heart defects.
"Not all of them will need treatment for that heart condition during their lifetime," said Parikh. "About half to two thirds of that one percent, which means about 2 out of 300 children, need treatment for the heart condition they were born with."
I was one of those two. My open heart surgery took about four hours. Parikh said modern medicine has made some surgeries less invasive, but overall, he said the principle behind the surgery remains the same.
"There have been some changes in the intra-operative technique, in the type of equipment that is used by the surgeon, or in the techniques that are used to stop the heart," said Parikh. "Yet, the basic principles have not changed in the last 50 years."
Parikh said there is no real reason why some babies are born with heart defects, and said it can't be prevented.
Yet, he said teaching them healthy eating habits early on can prevent them from developing other heart problems later in life.
"How healthy you'll be when you're 30 or 40 years old depends on how healthy you are when you are 3 or 4 years old," said Parikh. "In other words, healthy heart habits have to start very early in life. "
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