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A Debt of Gratitude

Nov 19

Posted by: ACHA
11/19/2012 2:35 PM  RssIcon

By Karen Matson

Exactly two months ago, I received a new pulmonary valve.

This is my third one—first I had the one I was born with, which managed to get the job done in one manner or another for 44 years, then I got a new bovine valve in 2004. This time I was fortunate to be a candidate for the new Melody transcatheter pulmonary valve—really a revolutionary delivery device for a new valve. The miracle of my quick recovery and the amazing progress medical technology has made leave me thankful and humbled.

I am often grateful to the people who came before me—those who were brave enough to say “sure, give it a whirl and try that new drug, device or procedure on my child or me.” Those pioneers paved the way and so many of them gave the “ultimate sacrifice,” to use the terms of the day. I am grateful to those who imagined the path for us—the doctors, scientists, parents, families and others who thought enough about MY problems to make them their own—and to imagine a better way. I will never be able to thank you enough for thinking about me and others like me.

I am also fortunate that I have a good job with good insurance. However, the knowledge that my procedure (which we all anticipate/hope will not need to be repeated for eight years) cost enough to buy a lovely home in Atlanta is sobering.

How can I hope to pay my community back for their investment and commitment to me?

I spend time trying to think of ways to pay it back, or to pay it forward. How can I show my deep appreciation and thanks? Some little thoughts—well, I’d better drop that 20 pounds, volunteer in my community or write a thank you note—seem shallow. My better instinct hopes that being a good mother and friend is payment—that I can contribute to a more civil and positive experience for all those whom I encounter every day. It sounds good, but is it enough?

I ask my fellow CHD patients and their families—how do you walk the walk to pay your debt of gratitude?

Karen Matson is a tetralogy of Fallot patient who had a Blalock-Taussig shunt in 1961, corrective surgery in 1965, pulmonary valve replacement in 2004 and now a new pulmonary valve via Melody transcatheter in September 2012. She is a former ACHA Board member and mother to a 14-year-old son. Karen lives in the Seattle area and is ever grateful to her family and physicians!

Copyright ©2012 ACHA

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3 comment(s) so far...


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Re: A Debt of Gratitude

Thank you for sharing! I am going to need a valve replacement soon and was also born with Tetralogy of Fallot. (1966) Both of my previous surgeries were in 1970 and 1972, so I have been pretty lucky for 40 years.

By Jill Schneider on   11/19/2012 3:21 PM
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Re: A Debt of Gratitude

Enjoyed your post! We are from the same era of TOF patients..My 1st and only surgery was in 1969. New valve is coming soon...Your story is a nice "pay if forward", it gave me hope, that all will be fine! Good Insurance, family, personal and ACHA friends are blessings with us! Happy Holidays!

By Lynn on   11/21/2012 11:55 AM
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Re: A Debt of Gratitude

Karen, You are an amazing woman. One would never know the challenges you have faced. It is an honor knowing you and your family. Thanks for sharing this very personal story. You continue to give to the part of the community that I share with you. Thank you for your support. I hope you continue to have a wonderful adventure. Marjie

By Marjie Butler on   11/24/2012 12:46 PM

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