Victoria's Story

· Bi-directional Glenn Shunt ·

11 April 1994 [age 6 months]
We took Victoria to the hospital and had her admitted for a heart catheterisation to be done the next morning. We thought she would be home again several hours after the test.

12 April 1994
The catheterisation went very well and the cardiologist got everything he needed to know. However, a routine blood test showed that Victoria's hæmoglobin level was now dangerously high. This was her body's way of compensating for her low blood oxygen level. She was now at great risk of having a stroke. The cardiologist decided that, because of this risk of stroke, it was necessary to operate immediately. She was fit into the surgical schedule two days later and remained in the hospital until then.

We had always known that the time for surgery would come. We even knew roughly when in Victoria's life each operation would occur. Still, we were fairly shocked at the news that it would happen in just two short days! In retrospect, I'm glad that we weren't given a long time to prepare for the surgery (worry is a better word than prepare) but, at the time, we were stunned.

13 April 1994
The day before the operation, we finally met the cardiovascular surgeon who would do the Big Job. He came in and we had a long talk about exactly what he was going to do and what the consequences of it would be. That was another one of those unforgettable conversations that will likely stay in my mind for many years to come. I signed the dreaded consent form.

14 April 1994
The Glenn surgery went very smoothly. It was short - just three hours. We got in to see Victoria in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), not really knowing what to expect. Anyone who's seen an ICU knows that it can be quite an intimidating and humbling place. Victoria was so tiny in her huge bed. She had many tubes and wires attached to her and was in an oxygen tent. She looked completely helpless. More striking than the equipment, however, was the change in her colour. She had pink feet! It was very apparent. We were extremely pleased at that sight.

14 April 1994 - 23 April 1994
Victoria made a speedy recovery from the Glenn operation. She remained in the ICU for most of the hospital stay. As with most heart surgeries, fluid retention by the body was a problem. One of Victoria's lungs partially collapsed, but it recovered quickly. We found out several years after the surgery that, during the first three post-operative days, the surgeon contemplated taking down (undoing) Victoria's Glenn. Still, to us, it looked like she continually got better throughout this time. She was in the oxygen tent for some time. She likely would have been home in seven days, but she caught an intestinal virus in the hospital which made her quite miserable. She could not keep any food or liquid down. Despite that, she got healthier and recovered well. She had another heart catheterisation during this time, just to have a look at how the shunt was funtioning. The cardiologist was happy with what he saw.

24 April 1994
Finally, on a sunny Sunday, 10 days after surgery, Victoria came home. She was prescribed two medications, captopril and lasix to be taken for one to three months, depending on her progress. Within two days of returning home, she began to eat and drink once again, having kicked that intestinal bug.

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