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My Story - Jeremy Aylward

by Pamela M. on Monday, July 1, 2013

Jeremy Aylward South Dakota

My journey began when I was in the seventh grade. I was diagnosed with bicuspid aortic valve stenosis and insufficiency with ascending aorta dilatation and left ventricular hypertrophy.  

At the age of 18, I underwent my first open-heart surgery, a total aortic valve replacement.  I was transferred out of ICU the following day and began my journey down the road to recovery.  Twenty days post-op arrived and it was time for my check-up with the surgeon and the cardiologist.  I was feeling quite well but the tests proved otherwise.  Fluid is normal after a surgery like mine, but my body was not taking care of it naturally like it should have been and the pericardial sac was full of as much fluid as it could hold (known as pericardial effusion) which was in turn applying pressure on the heart and lungs allowing neither to work as they were supposed to. 

If left unnoticed or untreated, pericardial effusion can cause heart failure or death due to poor heart function; therefore, immediate action was necessary.  Twenty days after my first surgery, I was once again being prepared for heart surgery.  The doctors decided I needed a surgical procedure called a pericardial window, in other words, they were going to re-open the same incision that had started to heal to cut a hole in my pericardium and allow the fluid to drain into the abdomen and be taken care of naturally. Discharge day came and I went home to start back down the road to recovery – again – back to cardiac rehab, walks, and lots of rest.  Without the outstanding medical professionals, exceptional resources and research performed in the area along with the support of family and friends, these surgeries… which saved my life… wouldn’t have been possible.