- By Dana Sparks
Sharing Mayo Clinic: Navigating multiple heart surgeries with grace and gratitude
Matthew Makela is a kindhearted 3-year-old who tucks in 20 stuffed animals each night at bedtime and gives his younger sister, Emily, a kiss, hug and farewell message of "Bye, little girl" each day at day care drop-off.
This sweet boy's loving heart had a rough start, though. Matthew underwent his first heart surgery when he was just 7 days old. He had a second cardiac surgery at 5½ months. That surgery was followed by another a year later. At 2, he underwent a cardiac catheterization procedure to place a stent in his heart. In the future, Matthew eventually will need pulmonary valve replacementsurgery, too.
All of this medical intervention is a result of a rare condition known as tetralogy of Fallot — a combination of four congenital heart defects. These abnormalities affect the structure of the heart and cause oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart to the rest of the body.
In addition to his cardiac procedures, Matthew also underwent a thumb reconstruction surgery when he was 14 months old for an unrelated condition called congenital clasped thumb. And if that weren't enough, he has an abnormal heart rhythm, asthma and left-sided hearing loss.