• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Navigating multiple heart surgeries with grace and gratitude

September 8, 2019
Sharing Mayo Clinic patient Matthew Makela smiling and holding a plastic baseball bat

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 rhythmasthma and left-sided hearing loss.

Read the rest of Matthew's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.