A broken heart for Valentine's Day sounds like the plot of a romantic comedy. But for Rebekah Holl, a literal broken heart was her reality on Feb. 14, 2019. Born with a rare defect called d-Transposition of the Great Arteries, she underwent open-heart surgery as an infant to correct the way blood circulates throughout her body. Though rare, congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defects – affecting about 1% or 40,000 births per year in the U.S.
Thanks to advancements in treatment, babies born with a heart defect are living long and healthy lives. The treatments needed to control their condition do not always end with childhood, though. This is where Poyee (Pansy) Tung, MD, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), comes in.
As the medical director of the UT Physicians Adult Congenital Heart Disease Clinic, Tung understands the complex issues this patient population faces as they grow up.
These patients are born with very complex anatomical abnormalities that change as they grow. Coupled with life changes such as moving away that occur during the transition to adulthood, the handoff from pediatric to adult care can get lost in the mix. Plus, they just aren't kids anymore; they have adult issues to deal with now – which can mean anything from pregnancy and childbirth to other aging-related health issues." Poyee (Pansy) Tung, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Hospitals and doctors are nothing new to Holl, who is a nurse. However, due to the common belief that treatments for these conditions are limited to pediatrics, Holl didn't even realize there were nonpediatric physicians who treated congenital heart conditions. She first met Tung when she made an appointment to find the underlying cause of her heart palpitations and low heart rate. Related Stories
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