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“All Fontans Fail”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

By Jennifer Gooden

Late last year I shared with the ACHA community that I had gotten my dream job! I am working in the cardiac intensive care unit at a major medical center. This hospital also happens to be where I had all four of my surgeries (many years ago) and it is still the hospital I go to for my cardiac care now.

This job has challenged me in so many ways that I never thought possible. I get to work with some of the most astute medical minds in the world. They are a truly amazing group of people that have such a wealth of knowledge that I am dying to learn. Whenever I find time to pick the brain of a more senior nurse, I do! I ask about all kinds of cardiac conditions and blood flow patterns and medication dosages.

One night I remarked to a nurse who has been in the ICU for over 20 years, "Why do some Fontans fail?" We had just seen three patients who underwent the Fontan procedure and now have failing Fontans. She said to me, "Jen, ALL Fontans fail. It is a palliative surgery. It is just a matter of when.”

And that nugget of knowledge really shook me. I am a Fontan—meaning the last procedure that I had was a Fontan and anatomically speaking, my heart most closely resembles Fontan physiology.

It made me think that the most important thing is research. The medical community is learning from us and gathering information for us, to better our outcomes, lifestyles and futures. So I ask us to be open-minded and give our time, blood and whatever else to help doctors, nurses and other medical professionals learn.


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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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