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Sheridan's Open-Heart Surgery

Posted May 20 2010 9:09pm
First, a ridiculously adorable picture of Sheridan to put a smile on everybody's face before they read on...

On Sunday we leave for Stanford , we have a 6-8 hour pre-op appointment on Monday, and surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

Many of our friends and family have asked for more information about Sheridan's heart defects, how they will be fixed, etc. So, taking a cue from Pudge & Zip's mom (thank you for all your support, Courtney!), I turned to the Children's Heart Institute of Virginia for a few images to help me explain (I'm a bit of a visual learner and I thought these were great)...


Think of your heart as a house with
4 rooms (chambers)
4 doors (valves)
4 BIG hallways (vessels)
4 little hallways (vessels)

It would look like this...


Sheridan's got two of these suckers... basically, they are holes in the wall between the two ventricles. Here's what his heart house looks like (notice the hole in the wall between the bottom two rooms)

To repair his VSDs, his surgeons will use Sheridan's own paricardial tissue to "patch" the hole. Eventually his heart tissue and the patch will become one and grow with him. Here's the best way to envision that patch job


In the cardiothoracic surgery world, a PFO and an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) are essentially synonymous. The terms get used interchangeably. The PFO/ASD is a hole in the wall between the two atriums (the top two chambers of the heart). Here's what it looks like using the house (notice the hole in the wall between the top two rooms)

Sheridan's surgeons expect to be able to close the PFO with sutures. No patch needed. But just for illustration purposes, here's what his heart will look like after the sutures close the hole in that wall


This one is a bit different. It has nothing to do with the walls in the heart. The PDA is actually something that we are ALL born with, believe it or not. It's a critical piece of fetal blood flow. The difference is, most PDAs close naturally within the first couple days of life.

Sheridan's didn't close, so now what he has is an open vessel that connects the oxygen-rich blood in the aorta to the blood in the pulumonary artery (that takes blue blood to the lungs to oxygenate it). So, his pulmonary artery is carrying some oxygenated blood to his lungs. A big no-no.

Here's a healthy heart (images thanks to the Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York)
Here's a heart with a PDA

Sheridan's surgeons will suture this hole, also.

So there you have it...


I want to thank every single friend (including my blogging friends from around the world!) and family member that has reached out to us and shared their stories with us. Talking with parents who have had a child go through the same surgery has given us MANY tricks and tips to help us survive the waiting and healing, and most importantly has given us ideas about how to make Sheridan's healing and coping go as smoothly as possible.

I still have no idea how the surgical team will pry Sheridan from my arms on Tuesday morning, but I do feel that he is in good hands.

I will post frequent updates the day of the surgery and during his recovery at the hospital and at home. We know we have a road ahead of us, it might be short, or could be long. But I know Sheridan is super strong and healthy and will kick this surgery's butt!

Here's to rockin' the scar!

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