My name is Madison Braun and I am 14 years old. I was born on December 23, 1997, and according to my parents, I was a healthy child, never having to go to the doctor more than a few times for common things, like ear infections and colds. But all of that changed in July 2010.
I started a summer weights program and did fine with the lifting, but when we had to start the conditioning part of the program at the track, I noticed that I would get real tired and run out of breath easily. We had to run sprints, longer distances, and run stairs, and I could not keep up with my friends. My coaches told me that I was probably just out of shape and I needed to run more to increase my stamina, which I did, but I didn’t seem to get any better.
When I started my 7th grade year at school, in August 2010, I had a P.E. class and I also went out for volleyball. It seemed like whenever I ran I would get weak and short of breath. My P.E. teachers told my mom and dad that I could only run about a minute before running out of energy. I went from running a 9 minute mile the year before, to a 14 minute mile, so they knew something was really wrong.
My mom took me to our family doctor & it was then noticed that my blood oxygen levels were really low. I had a chest x-ray which showed a little bit of a heart enlargement, so my doctor called and got me an appointment in Denver to see a pediatric cardiologist, a couple of days later. After some tests, we found out that I had at least one hole in my heart, my blood was flowing backwards, and that my right ventricle was abnormal. My cardiologist scheduled an MRI as well as a diagnostic heart catheterization, and a biopsy of my heart tissue to test for any heart disease.
After my MRI and the 3 hour long catheterization, I was diagnosed with 3 holes in my heart, called Atrial Septal Defects
, which are birth defects that are caused when the heart is being formed in the womb. One of the holes was as big as a half dollar, and my doctors were amazed that I had never shown any symptoms before.
In addition to the holes, I was also diagnosed with Pectus Excavatum
, which means that my breastbone was sunk in and pressing down on my right ventricle, causing my blood flow problem. It was then that we found out that I would need open heart surgery to patch the holes and repair my pectus. Now I was really scared! I knew that once my heart was fixed I would feel better, but knowing that someone was going to open up my chest and hold my heart in their hands was not easy to think about. It helped a lot though that my doctors and my parents talked to me openly and honestly and explained what was going to happen. That helped me be a little less afraid.
On December 17, 2010, I had my surgery and was in the hospital for 7 days. The pain was the hardest part, but every day I seemed to feel a little bit better and get a little bit stronger, and I was able to go back to school with my classmates on January 3rd, following Christmas break.
On March 18, 2011 I had an exercise test to see if my heart could handle the stress of competitive sports, and I am happy to say that I passed with flying colors and was cleared to go back to participating in my favorite physical activities, which include volleyball, basketball, track, softball, and dance.
I will go back for a check-up once a year, but there is no reason to believe that I will have future problems. Every day I thank God for my awesome doctors and all of the people who prayed for my family and I during that very scary time.
I have made the decision to go to medical school after high school to become a Pediatric Cardiologist, so that one day I can give back and help children who face heart problems. RETURN TO MEET KIDS WITH HEARTRETURN TO KIDS WITH HEART HOME PAGE