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East Texas family raises awareness of birth defects


WEST TAWAKONI, Texas (KLTV) – February is American Heart Month and this week is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.

Congenital heart defects or coronary artery disease occur when heart problems occur while a baby is developing during pregnancy. According to UT Health East Texas chief of cardiology, Dr. Thaddeus Tolleson, it affects one in four births each year. Coronary artery disease comes in many different forms with varying levels of severity – some may simply require medication while others result in surgeries and pacemakers.

Dr Thaddeus Tolleson describes these heart abnormalities in these terms: “Congenital heart defects affect the electrical systems of children, so sometimes electrical communication from the top to the bottom of the heart does not develop and these children end up with pacemakers for take system in their hearts.

Even with corrective surgery and pacemakers, Dr Tolleson says there are still a lot of issues to deal with. In the United States, one in 120 babies are born with coronary heart disease, including Brayden Simpson, a 12-year-old Texan.

Brayden’s mother Rebekah Crumps doesn’t hesitate to share her son’s musical gift with people. She says, “I think sometimes he underestimates his talent. Of course, mom always brags but we come from a long line of singers.

Brayden and his family have a passion for music and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way, not even the pacemaker in his stomach.

Rebekah describes when she learned that Brayden’s heart had an anomaly. “Everything looked fine and the second day after she was born,” she said, “a pediatrician comes around and says those words you never want to hear, there’s something wrong with your baby’s heart. . “

Brayden was born with a whole heart and stenosis, which meant that a valve was narrow and did not open properly. At the age of two, he had heart surgery and now he will rely on a pacemaker for the rest of his life to keep his heart rate stable.

“With technology, even in the 27 years that I have practiced,” says Dr. Tolleson, “has really advanced so that today around 85% of children born with congenital heart defects live to. adulthood. “

After a decade with his pacemaker, Brayden likes to look on the bright side.

“The only good thing is that you can call yourself a cyborg,” says Brayden. He adds: “There is no buzzing sensation, like an electric zap every few minutes, like ‘bzz’. It’s just normal.

While he may not care much about his pacemaker anymore, when the pandemic hit his mother feared for her son’s health. Rebekah says the possibility of COVID-19 hurting her heart and not knowing how bad it could be, has made them extremely cautious.

She says, “We even sanitize our hands the minute we go pumping gas or leave the grocery store.” And their home has been free of covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

People with pacemakers should change the batteries or the entire device every 6 to 10 years. Brayden still has a bit of time to go, but when he needs to change his, he’ll get the standard pacemaker that adults usually have.

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