Larissa Mikelbank The Beat Goes On

First post: Apr 29, 2017 Latest post: Jun 21, 2017
Larissa was born with a few heart defects and had lifesaving surgery at Milwaukee Children's Hospital a few days after birth.  We came home about 3 weeks later with a heart that is functional and constructed much differently than the normal heart.  She has been leading a productive life excelling at academics and enjoying extra curricular activities at school. 

She has been to the cardiologist throughout her life with regular visits on a semi annual basis.  In third grade we were told she will eventually need a heart surgery, but not now.  Every visit we continued to hear the same message.  Her heart was operating in a way that not all pumped blood would actually circulate and some of the blood would seep back into the main chamber.  You wonder when it will be?  As she grew and got older, the situation was progressively getting worse.  In September of 6th grade, they said she needed a surgery but it was not the one they were anticipating.  At American Family Children's Hospital, they put a stent in her aortic arch to facilitate more blood flowing through with each beat.  The surgery was successful and more blood was circulating.  As they monitored her progress, some blood was still seeping back into the main chamber.

In the last two years, the situation of blood not circulating through has gotten worse.  Basically, the heart beats well.  After it beats and blood flows through the valve, the valve does not close.  The valve is a three part piece similar to the Mercedes symbol.  One of the three flaps will not close properly.  Her current situation is that over half of the blood pumped seeps back into the main chamber.  Her perseverance has allowed her to continue to push herself through this adversity and keep up with her friends.  She still enjoys all aspects of her life but the recovery following any extra cardiac work has become significantly increased.

In early May, she will be having her valve replaced with a mechanical valve at AFCH here in Madison. 

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