This is Matthew. He is a survivor of CHD! We need MORE STORIES like Matthew's! Let's create the awareness for MORE funding and BETTER treatements! They can ALL be survirors!
My name is Matthew Gunther and I am a 27 year old Congenital Heart Defect Survivor. I was born on September 20th, 1988 with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. This condition in an abnormality of the heart. In fact it is a combination of four different defects; a VSD, which is hole in between the two lower chambers of the heart, Pulmonary Stenosis, which is the narrowing of the the pulmonary artery, Right Ventricular Hypertrophy, which is essentially the enlargement of the right side of the heart from poor circulation, and lastly overriding of the aorta, which is where the aorta is not positioned correctly over the left ventricle. I have had a total of four operations on my heart to correct the defects. I had what there call a BT-Shunt at 6 weeks old, it was to improve the blood flow due to the stenosis. Once I was able to recover and grow and become a little stronger at the age of 14 months, I had a complete repair to fix the VSD and a few other issues to help my heart improve my quality of life. Then at 8 years old it was time I had a pulmonary valve replacement, since it was fixed during the complete repair or place one if it was removed. At the time a homograft valve was placed. Then at age 20, I had to have it replaced with a new one and they decided to place a porcine valve. They expect me to live 20 years with this one before it will need to be replaced. I also had to have three back operations to correct scoliosis, which is the curvature of the spine. I have been able to live a very healthy and outgoing life besides a few ups and downs, but I keep a very positive attitude and do my best to jump each hurdle that is thrown at me. I am very involved in the CHD community, by spreading as much awareness I can to as many families and people that are affected by a CHD. I am apart of the Kids at Heart program in Atlanta, Ga as a inspiration to the families, so they know there is hope for their young one to grow up and live a long and healthy life. I am also apart of the ACHGA, which is a group of adults that are living with a CHD and provide support and advocate for CHD as much as they can. I am also in school to become a Patient Care Tech and who else knows where that will lead me. I am also CPR certified which essential for everyone to know, it is extremely helpful since I am around heart families and be able help in a time of need. I have also decided to become a CPR instructor so I am able to teach and give as many people the knowledge to help when a loved one has a medical emergency. Lastly one of the things that I cherish with all my heart is Camp Braveheart. Which is a camp provided by Children's Health Care of Atlanta for kids and teens with a heart defect or heart transplant. If it was not for a wonderful family the Flynn’s we would not have this camp, and I would not have been able to be a camper from age 7 to 18 and now be able to give back and be a consoler.