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Gunnar Patterson, Louisiana

by Krystle R. on Monday, November 4, 2013

Gunnar Patterson was born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD): bicuspid aortic valve and aortic coarctation.  We learned of his heart murmur at a sick visit when he was six months old, but had no idea the extent of his heart disease.  Gunnar contracted Bacterial Meningitis a week after his first birthday.  He spent two weeks in quarantine for treatment.  He recovered with zero side effects.  One week later we visited a cardiologist and discovered two aneurysms on his aortic valve and the severity of his CHD.  

At the age of 13 months, he underwent two open-heart surgeries to remove the aneurysms and repair his heart.  He was given 50/50 chance of survival, as well as, complications if he made it through surgery.  He was the toughest little fighter to all the doctors and nursing staff.  Doctors were impressed by how quickly he recovered.

Gunnar spent the following year learning his ABC’s, riding a tractor with his Daddy and running full speed!  He was given four medications daily and visited his cardiologist every six weeks for checkups.  Exactly one year later he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  His only option was a synthetic valve and a lifetime of medical needs.  However, doctors successfully repaired his valve with another surgery.  Thankfully, he recovered extremely well.  The following four years Gunnar remained in good health with a stable heartbeat.  He’s very active in sports and swimming.

In September of 2011, at the age of six, Gunnar was faced with yet another battle in his journey.  He was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor, a form of Kidney cancer.  Gunnar received two blood transfusions before undergoing surgery to remove his left kidney and the tumor.  He soon endured seven months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  Gunnar is currently in full remission and returns to Texas Children’s Hospital every three months for checkups. 

Gunnar is everything but ordinary!  He is our warrior by the grace of God!!  He is an inspiration and has touched many hearts near and far. His loving personality and sweet contagious smile will get you!

As parents of a child with heart disease, the American Heart Association is dear to our hearts.  My husband and I are dedicated advocates in raising awareness for heart disease for the sole purpose of how research/awareness has effected our lives.  Each year, we vow to be a part of the American Heart Association Heart Walk in hopes that Gunnar’s Team is making a difference in Louisiana.

 -Written by Alayna Patterson, Gunnar's Mom