My name is Jacob and I am 9 years old.

When I was born, my mommy and daddy thought I was going to be like every other baby, but shortly after I was born they learned that my heart was not working properly. They noticed that I was kind of blue-ish and the doctor told my parents that I was going into heart failure. I needed to go to St. Pete’s All Children’s Hospital for further diagnosis.

 My parents were very scared. My mom just had a c-section so she was not even sure she’d be able to see me before they took me to St Pete’s All Children’s Hospital.  However, as soon as my mom found out that I was to have a procedure at St. Pete’s, she got out of bed (hurting and sore) and came to see me. At St Pete’s, the doctors diagnosed me with Aortic Stenosis with Valve Insufficiency/Regurgitation and said I needed an angioplasty as soon as possible to live. During the procedure, I needed to be resuscitated three times.

 After my procedure, they put me in the NICU where I stayed for the first month of my life. My mom and dad were only allowed to hold me a little, and for the most part they could only touch my nose and rub my little head.  Once I got home, the doctor had me on blood thinning injections in my legs twice a day to keep my valve working the way that it should. I was finally able to get off the injections when I was 6 months old, and after that I was only on oral medicines until I was a little over a year.

 Today I am 9 years old and I see a cardiologist from UNC-Chapel Hill once a year to check my heart. I’m not allowed to play most sports, but Dr Cotton says I can play soccer and baseball for now. I’m also a boy scout and do hip-hop. Dr Cotton says that when I get older I will need to have an open heart surgery called The Ross Procedure, but we are hoping that can wait until I am at least in my teens. Until then they will continue to monitor my heart and if I start to show signs of trouble they will put me on blood pressure medicine to stave off surgery as long as possible.