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I was born with the heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, which was surgically corrected when I was 3. Then a few years ago, like about 15 percent of people born with this condition, I developed an aortic aneurysm.
My doctor recommended the standard care, regular monitoring of the weakened blood vessel, and I was happy to go along with that until my father died suddenly of a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Suddenly, I felt like I had ticking time bomb.
I consulted some of the top heart specialists in the country, but it was the aortic experts at Johns Hopkins who really understood the gravity of my situation and explained that I had a 20 percent chance of dying in five years if I did nothing versus a 1 percent mortality risk from surgery. They removed my aneurysm and replaced my aortic and pulmonary valves.
Now I can be here to raise my child.