MyHeart.org.au for young people with childhood heart disease.

Meghan's Story

I wouldn’t change a thing

Written by Meghan, 8 September 2015  |  Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) 

Hi my name is Meghan! I am a heart adult living with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. Born in 1989 at Flinders Medical Centre, it was clear something was wrong straight after my birth. After routine checks a loud heart murmur was discovered. I was then sent to Dr Brodie Knight And Dr Malcolm Richardson at the Women’s And Children’s Hospitals Cardiac Clinic. After several x-rays, echoes, and blood tests I was diagnosed. At three months old I had my first surgery to put a shunt in, this would buy me some time until I was strong enough to have open heart surgery. Finally at 12 months old I had my full Tetralogy of Fallot repair in Melbourne at The Royal Children’s Hospital. I had two more balloon catheters as I grew to open up my narrowed pulmonary arteries, one at 11 years of age and another at 15.

Growing up I always felt fairly normal, besides having the catheter and a big scar down my chest I didn’t feel like a heart kid. I had yearly appointments with my doctors at the Women’s and Children’s but I was never really told what exactly was wrong with my heart and was never treated differently by my peers at school or at home. When I turned 18 years old I started seeing Dr Patrick Disney, an adult cardiologist who specialises in congenital heart defects. Over the next few years I started to become more symptomatic and Dr Disney started discussing the replacement of my pulmonary valve. I had started getting short of breath and my exercise tolerance was low, I became very tired and lethargic and could barely walk up a flight of stairs without needing to sit down to catch my breath.  After several tests a year later I was put on a waiting list for my valve replacement, however only a few weeks later I found out a lovely surprise - I was pregnant! My partner and I were thrilled but scared as to what this might mean for my health. After speaking to my cardiologist and my heart surgeon they were happy for me to go ahead with close monitoring. We were ecstatic!!

Nine fairly easy months cruised on by and I gave birth by an elective caesarian delivery to a healthy baby boy at 38 weeks. Back on the waiting list I went and eight months later I was in Melbourne at Monash Medical Centre meeting Dr Andrew Cochrane who operated on me for nine hours and replaced my pulmonary valve with a tissue bovine valve. Everything went off without a hitch and I was out of hospital in five days. The recovery was a lot harder than I expected but my beautiful supportive family pulled me through it and within six weeks I was almost back to my old self. Over the next year I got stronger everyday, my heart function was better than ever and I felt a million bucks, so much so, that we decided to add to our family and have another baby!

The pregnancy went really well and at just 18 months after my open heart surgery I delivered a healthy baby girl naturally at 40 weeks. 

Here I am today, married, three years post open heart surgery with two babies younger than four!

I have just started teaching swimming lessons and am so excited to start this new chapter in my life. I feel blessed every single day.

I didn't choose life with congenital heart disease, it chose me. It makes me appreciate every moment, hold on to every memory and live everyday like it's the last. It has taught me compassion because I know what it's like to suffer, it has taught me patience when life has literally been one hour at a time, it has led me to meet the most amazing people and taught me to not bat an eyelid at people who aren't worth my precious time. This is my normal, this is me and I wouldn't change a thing.

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You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Christopher Columbus