Monday, January 5, 2009

Second Opinions: It Never Hurts

The following letter arrived in the CHD Blog's inbox from Farshid Bayat...

My daughter Ava was born with DORV, D-TGV, PDA, large VSD, ASD and COA on 21 October 2006. In a nutshell, Ava had two surgeries at the ages of 2 and 12 months. Her final surgery took place on 27 April 2008. Although most of the cardiac pediatricians we had visited before were of the opinion that Ava's life could not be saved, the excellent pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Navabi Shirazi managed to thoroughly repair the main defects in a ten-hour surgery. Ava was discharged from the hospital after a ten-day stay.

Today Ava acts like any other child with no physical restrictions. She is a bundle of energy who loves running and playing football with her older friends. Parents of children with CHD should remember to ask for a second opinion before choosing a surgeon. Had we known about Dr. Navabi from the very beginning, Ava would have been treated by only one surgery.

I wish I could say that it's the only time I've heard of such a story, but it simply is not the case. Until we have a central registry of CHD cases and better reporting information for CHD cardiac care facilities, the need for second opinions will remain vital in your (or your loved one's) quality care. Many times, at diagnosis, we have little time to prepare. We may feel comfortable with the individual(s) who provide the diagnostic results and recommendations, and be lulled into a sense of comfort in working with them. But I urge patients and parents alike to be diligent - ask those tough questions, research the facility and its staff carefully and talk to fellow CHD survivors and families when you can - it can make a tremendous difference.

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