By Kathy Walsh
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother and her baby boy share the same serious heart defect.
They also share the same cardiologist who has seen both through life-threatening complications.
It’s a program of lifelong care. The University of Colorado Hospital, in partnership with Children’s Hospital, offers the expertise to care for patients of all ages with congenital heart defects.
Nine-month-old Domenick Wood is fascinated by the sounds of an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of his heart. His cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Kay, likes what he sees.
“His heart looks great,” said Kay.
It’s hard to believe that, at a day old, Domenick was rushed from the University of Colorado Hospital across the street to Children’s Hospital.
He was born with a serious heart defect called coarctation, or narrowing of the aorta.
“It led to weakening of his heart muscle,” said Kay.
At 17 days old, Domenick had open heart surgery.
“Our surgeons cut out the narrowed segment and put the two healthy segments back together,” explained Kay to CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Domenick’s mother, Gina Rizzo-Wood, has great confidence in Dr. Kay. He is her cardiologist, too.
Rizzo-Wood was born with a milder form of the same defect as Domenick. Two years ago, Kay placed a stent to open up her aorta.
“I am so grateful that I can entrust my care and Domenick’s care into one person,” said Rizzo-Wood.
“They truly need lifelong surveillance to keep them healthy,” said Kay.
It is a way to prevent problems as a baby, born with heart defects, grows. It is also a way to win a mother’s heart.
Kay is both a pediatric and adult cardiologist and the program director of the Colorado Adult & Teen Congenital Heart (CATCH) Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
It is one of the first programs in the nation to be accredited as an Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Comprehensive Care Center by the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA).
The Heart Institute at Children’s Colorado is “graduating” more and more patients who are ready to transition to adult specialists at UCHealth.
Today, there are about a million children and 1.2 million adults living with Congenital Heart Disease in the U.S.
The CATCH Program currently treats approximately 3,000 patients and expects that number to grow by about 3,000 additional patients over the next 10 years.
It is estimated that there are approximately 16,000 ACHD survivors in Colorado.
To schedule a patient for evaluation, call (720) 848-7501.