We are sharing this letter we received from Jenn Brenneman, a volunteer for our events and also a mother of three boys. Jenn wanted to share her experiences with our Foundation and all those people that we reach. Here is her letter:
I have been a volunteer for Aidan’s Heart Foundation for over 3 years. I am a Registered Nurse at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital and my 11-year-old son Zachary Brenneman was diagnosed with Basal Septal Dyskinesia by Dr. Chowdhury in Haverford’s high school gym during the November 2016 Heart Screening Event sponsored by Aidan’s Heart Foundation. Zachary had two very distant second cousins on his father’s side that died suddenly on the football field over 40 years ago. In fact, I did not learn of this until after I discussed the heart screening findings with my husband and mother in law. Zachary has no outward symptoms and his heart is functioning well at this time.
Zachary is a normal healthy active 11-year-old boy who plays baseball and likes to run and swim. Zachary has received routine medical screenings by his pediatrician and has always been given a clean bill of health. However, he had never had an EKG as that is not part of a routine pediatric wellness check. Having worked as a nurse in the emergency department for over 10 years and volunteering for Aidan’s Heart Foundation in their annual Kids Saving Kids Campaign, I was shocked to find out that Zachary’s heart needs close follow up with a cardiologist through puberty over the next 10 years.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve done a lot of research on Basal Septal Dyskinesia. It is rarely found in children for a number of reasons. One being children are not routinely screened and two it does not cause symptoms in its early stages. On an echocardiogram, the cardiologist can visualize abnormal dyskinesia or movement on the basal septal wall. This means that the area expands or bulges outward during muscle contraction. These aneurysms of the heart rarely rupture, but if they become large enough they can affect the overall pumping function of the heart.
Surgery is not always needed. Medicines can decrease the stress on the heart and allow a scar to form. Understanding the grave risk that could have lingered had Zachary not been diagnosed is unimaginable. For now, we have laid to rest our anxiety and have learned to continue to ask questions and proceed with close recommended follow-up. Zachary is scheduled for a stress echocardiogram in the end of May 2017.
However, Zachary’s grandfather had emergency open heart surgery in February and then a pacemaker placed in May. Explaining the difference to Zachary and alleviating anxiety is sometimes difficult. Zachary is intelligent and asks challenging questions. He also participated as a volunteer during the heart screening event in November and learned how to use an AED and perform hands-on CPR. He knows how to restart a heart. Do you? Come out and check out Aidan’s heart Foundation where together we can help save lives.
Preventative health and monitoring Zachary’s heart over time is vital in providing the best care. Children are resilient and the heart is an amazing thing. The body can compensate before symptoms like syncope, shortness of breath or pain appear so close follow up and your help will provide Zachary with the best care.
Zachary is followed by Cardiology Care for Children in Lancaster by Dr. Devyania Chowdhury in Lancaster, PA which is local to us. We are grateful for her dedication to heart healthy children and the time she took to participate in screening over 150 children the day that Zachary was diagnosed.
Even more so, we are thankful to Aidan’s Heart Foundation and the sacrifices Aidan’s Family has made to reach out to families in the surrounding communities to provide awareness, education and support to create heart safe communities. Early detection and knowing how to respond to a sudden cardiac death emergency can save a life. Aidan’s Heart Foundation directly prevents death by sudden cardiac arrest in youth by offering free heart screening events in Chester County, PA and the greater Philadelphia area and by facilitating the placement and education of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) in the community. Come out and get your child’s free heart screening.
The Brenneman Family
Dave, Jenn, Jason, Bryan and Zachary