20 March 2005

Here’s how it works.

Right, I’ll try to explain Abbe’s heart condition as well as I can. Just bear with me.

The heart consists of two halves (each with a chamber and an atrium, but we’ll get back to that). One half pumps oxygen deficient blood into the lungs for the blood to fill up on oxygen. The blood then runs back into the heart and into the other half that pumps oxygen rich blood out into the body. That’s basically it, kind of like the figure eight (extremely simplified). Between the halves, no communication is meant to exist. That’s where Abbe has an opening, (VSD). Contrary to what you might think, this is a good thing for him, since he also has another problem. The artery that is meant to lead from the lungs to the heart has grown together (Pulmonalis Atresi), so there is no way for the oxygenated blood to get in that way.

But how can he be alive? Well, when you’re in your mother’s belly, you don’t use your lungs; you’re supplied with your mother’s oxygenated blood. The blood then follows a different route through your system. Kind of a shortcut. And because that shortcut exists, a small amount of oxygenated blood can escape and find its way through the little opening in Abbe’s heart to be pumped out into his body. Mixed with oxygen deficient blood, but still. The problem is that this shortcut – Ductus – closes a day or two after delivery. That’s when it is time to swap systems and start using your own lungs.

That’s what was beginning to happen to Abbe and that is why he got sick. If it had closed off completely, he would not have been able to oxygenate his blood at all. He would have died. Good thing they discovered it there and then. I think people are sent home from the delivery wards way too early. Seriously.

Abbe has been given a drip to keep the Ductus in an open position. That was the prostaglandinet they gave him in Borås, before he was sent off in the ambulance. But it’s not a permanent solution. As you might have guessed he’ll have to undergo surgery. I think the first operation will be as early as the start of next week. They’re going to insert a small tube to replace the Ductus and leave the blood free passage through the shortcut. Sort of like hot-wiring the heart. The blood will not be 100% oxygenated, but enough to for him live on. For now.

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