Stories

Charles "Ford" Mauntel

Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, BT Shunt, Glenn Shunt

We found out that we were pregnant with our first child on Father’s Day 2006 – how fitting!!! This being our 1st child, we were excited and nervous at the same time. My pregnancy was easy and I always felt great. Eric and I decided we didn’t want to find out the sex, so when we had our ultrasound at 18 weeks we assumed it would be like any other visit to the OB/GYN. Little did we know that our world was about to totally change.

After several visits to a genetics specialist and two different pediatric cardiologists, our baby was diagnosed with hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Specifically, he had tricuspid atresia which is where the valve does not develop between the right atrium and right ventricle.

As we learned, he was fine in utero but shortly after birth he would struggle to breathe because there was no way for blood to get pumped out properly into the lungs. We were shocked, devasted and really scared.

Ford was born on February 28, 2007. To our wonderful surprise, he was able to come home with us immediately… just like any other child. Of course, we were to look for a number of signs that indicated heart failure but we were thrilled to have our baby home!!

At 11 days old, Ford has his first open heart surgery. He was struggling to breathe so it was “time” for the first of three surgeries he would ultimately undergo to repair his heart defect. The ten days he was in the hospital were extremely nerve wracking. He had several “set-backs” but he was a fighter. By day five, he was eating and gaining the strength he needed to get back on track.

We left the hospital and tried to get on with “normal” life (whatever that means with a newborn!). Ford progressed beautifully and was growing strong and eating well. We fell more and more in love with him each day. His personality was infectious and he is charm, endearing. We had six months at home with before he was ready for his next surgery. By the time we left the hospital after his Glenn Shunt was implanted (a mere six days in the hospital this time!), Ford was laughing and cooing and even sitting up for the first time!!

Our journey is not over… we have one more surgery and a lifetime of doctor’s visits and medicine to administer. Certainly, a small price to pay for our angel who blesses our lives everyday. I’ll never understand where Ford gets his strength from. At two years of age, he has certainly been through more than most children or adults have been through in a lifetime. But, that does not phase him at all. He is the toughest person I have ever met. He always has a smile on his face and is very sweet and loving. He’s made his father and I better people for knowing him and taught us that there are miracles in life as FORD IS OUR MIRACLE!

Ford is the son of Adrienne and Eric Mauntel. The family resides in Charlotte, NC. Feel free to contact them for more information or with questions at almauntel@gmail.com.