Our son Zachary was born in May of 2003 with a series of rare, complicated heart problems. Within an hour of his birth, Zachary was transfered to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, where he was diagnosed with Epstein’s Anomaly (a defective tricuspid value), Atrial Septal Defect (“ASD”) (a hole between the two chambers of the heart) and Pulmonary Atresia, (his pulmonary valve was sealed shut and blood from his heart could not reach the lungs to be oxygenated).
The combination of these heart conditions were extremely rare and of such high risk that several times during his first six weeks of life he had to be resuscitated. He was turning blue, literraly, and his prognosis was poor. Zach was given paralysis medication to protect his weak little heart from stress and he was placed on the national heart transplant list.
But first, Zach underwent two cardiac catheterizations to open his pulmonary valve using a laser. Only once before had a laser been used in this way on an infant in the United States. But even with the valve unblocked, Zachary’s blood was still not getting enough oxygen. So he was scheduled for a high-risk, open heart bypass surgery.
On the morning of the surgery, as we waited for it to begin, the surgeon told us that Zach wouldn’t need surgery after all. Our tough little guy had made his own choice that the catheterizations would do the trick. Zach's health rebounded and, six weeks after he was born, we finally got to take him home.
At Children’s, the cardiac team dubbed him “the miracle baby”.
Zach's Story in Print and on Radio
Read this Washington Post article to learn more about Zachary's story.
Post Article on ZAB.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [745.9 KB]
Listen to Zach's parents tell his story.
MP3 audio file [5.2 MB]
No More Huffing and Puffing
At age 5, Zachary visited the catherization lab again to have his ASD closed. He had been huffing and puffing when running. The procedure went great. And Zach had no more huffing and puffing.
Replacing the Pulmonary Valve
In early April, 2012, Zach had open heart surgery to replace his pulmonary valve in order to improve pulmonary efficiency and prevent heart enlargement. The surgeon also sealed off a leak in Zach's ASD. Zach has been recovering beautifully. And he is once again in great hands with the cardiologist team of doctors, surgeons, nurses, and social workers at Children’s. Zach will miss a few weeks of school, but be back playing baseball with his friends and jumping on the trampoline with his brother Sam in no time.
Supporting Kids in Africa to Overcome Heart Disease
Grateful for all that Children’s Hospital has done for Zachary and our family,we established the Zachary Asher Blumenfeld Fund to help other children with congenital heart disease. Donations to the Zachary Fund are used to support the African Children with Heart Disease Fund at Children’s Hospital which, since 2003, has provided over 300 African kids with life saving treatment – including one child born with a condition very similar to Zach’s. With support from the Zachary Fund, Doctors from Children’s have helped create a sustainable cardiac surgery program in Uganda where local doctors are now trained to perform these life-altering procedures in-country.
To learn more, read this letter about this wonderful program headed by cardiologists from Children's.
Uganda charity 2012 letter (1).pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [23.8 KB]
To join us in making a contribution, click on African Children with Heart Disease Fund and indicate under the section labeled “To support a specific program" that your donation is for the Zachary Asher Blumenfeld Fund. You may also contact the Children's Hospital Foundation at 301-565-8500 or www.dcchildrensfoundation.com. You may also reach us directly a at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With heartfelt thanks,
Lane & Liz Blumenfeld