Valentine’s Day heartbreak turns to healing

Rebekah Holl pictured with her husband Donald. Last year Rebekah spent Valentine’s Day in the hospital for a procedure to place a catheter and a pacemaker on her heart. (Photo courtesy of Rebekah Holl).

A broken heart for Valentine’s Day sounds like the plot of a romantic comedy. But for Rebekah Holl, a literal broken heart was her reality on Feb. 14, 2019. Born with a rare defect called d-Transposition of the Great Arteries, she underwent open-heart surgery as an infant to correct the way blood circulates throughout her body. Though rare, congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defects – affecting about 1% or 40,000 births per year in the U.S.

Thanks to advancements in treatment, babies born with a heart defect are living long and healthy lives. The treatments needed to control their condition do not always end with childhood, though. This is where Poyee (Pansy) Tung, MD, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), comes in.

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