knowledge of medicine does not extend beyond what I learned as an EMT and
this operation is far beyond the scope of anything I can explain. Instead,
I have called on help from the 'Heart Surgery Forum', the Official
Publication of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiac
Surgery. Adam's last surgery was what is called the Ross Procedure,
developed by Mr. Donald N. Ross, D.Sc., F.R.C.S.; Consultant Surgeon
National Heart Hospital in London, England. One of the leading
specialists, if not THE leading specialist in this field, especially as
it relates to children, Adam was operated on by Dr. Ronald C. Elkins
Children's Hospital of Oklahoma, a part of the University
of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
It was Dr. Elkins and Dr.
Lorenzo Gonzalez-Lavin (Deborah Heart-Lung Institute of New
Jersey) who were the first, in the United States, to take up Dr. Ross's
procedure in the late 1980's.
If you want to understand
how this procedure relates directly to Adam, my suggestion is to go first
to the Pediatric
Ross. Below I have given a brief explanation of what you will find
under each section.
No one was more aware of the
seriousness of this operation and what might be the outcome than Adam's
parents. Adam was not only in the hands of a brilliant and experienced
surgeon, but also in the hands of God. In that there was comfort but not
a guarantee! No one can know why or how things turned out as they did.
I won't tout myself as the shining example of a Christian, but being brought
up by very strict, Christian parents I always trembled at the thought of
two things ... cursing God and questioning God's judgement. Yet, when I
listened to the phone message from Steven that "Adam passed away",
I screamed at the top of my lungs "NO, GOD! WHY??". Sobbing hysterically,
I struggled to compose myself so I could call my son. I think God understood!
- Basic introduction to the causes that necessitate this critical procedure.
- Learn how Dr. Ross developed this procedure starting back in the 1960's
and how it has developed through the present.
- We all know where the heart is, and most know the basic layout from school
health classes. To understand Adam's condition and the procedure he underwent
requires some additional knowledge of the heart. This also includes some
detailed images that help.
& Cons - Adam's parents are all too familiar with this section
but in reality it was the only choice. One of the disadvantages listed
is "technically more demanding on the surgeons skills". Adam was
in the hands of a doctor who had met this challenge time and again with
a mortality success rate of 95.6%. It was, in fact, a "textbook"
perfect surgery and the complications that set in afterward were not unexpected.
The problem appears to have been it was greater than expected.
Selection - Adam's doctors, here in Augusta, Georgia, did not just
say "Let's send him to Oklahoma for this procedure.". Adam had to
meet certain criteria and much study and consultation was required first.
In fact, this operation had been in the planning stages for over a year.
- This section gives you a brief overview of the procedure Adam went through,
including images. These are only drawings, so no blood is involved for
those who are squeamish.
- Long term survival, freedom from reoperation, stroke, anticoagulation,
and the potential for growth of the aortic replacement (in children) are
clearly superior to that which is offered by prosthetic valve replacements.
Had it not been for the complications afterward, the operation itself would
probably have meant Adam may never have required additional heart surgery
... or at least not for a long time.
Ross - The procedure is a challenge all its own, but when it comes
to children the operation takes on many more considerations.
Daisy and Tony faced those
questions and emotions many times over what I felt right then, and continue
to do so almost daily. Anyone who can take comfort in, right after losing
a loved one ... especially a child ... "it was God's will" must
be a candidate for sainthood. This is why you should never say things like
that to someone else, no matter how well meaning ... because it just adds
to the hurt, confusion ... and possibly anger that person is dealing with.
Allow them to come to terms with their loss, in their own time. Express
a simple "I'm sorry for your loss", and let them know you are there
if needed. That's all that matters! It is not the time to express your