Austin couple shares journey after son diagnosed with congenital heart defect at 32 weeks

Close to one in 100 babies will be born with some kind of heart problem that will need some kind of intervention. Before Colton Campbell was born that's the news his parents got. Thanks to technology Colton's doctors were ready long before he was born. 

"At the time we knew he wasn't cooperating. I knew there was something in the heart they weren't seeing," explained Erin Campbell. She and her husband, David, were so excited to be pregnant. With daughter Cate at home, they were adding to their growing family. 

During her 20 week appointment Campbell realized that her doctors were going to be keeping a close eye on her son. At 32 weeks, they referred her to a specialist for a closer look at her son's heart. That's when Colton was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fellot, a congenital heart disease. The news was devastating. 

"Really overwhelming. I remember that day vividly," said Campbell. 

"Anytime you have a diagnosis you do grieve because your perfect little gem has some imperfection," explained Dr. Camille Hancock-Friesen, the medical director of pediatric cardiovascular surgery at Dell Children's Medical Center. 

"The problem is part of the muscle under the valve never grew properly," explained Hancock-Friesen while pointing to a scan of Colton's small heart. The diagnosis causes four defects in the heart. 

The Campbell family quickly learned of surgical options. They wouldn't know until he was born if he would need surgery right away or he would wait a few months. 

Four months after Colton was born Dr. Hancock-Friesen took him into the operating room. Colton needed open heart surgery. With tiny stitches and a little patch she repaired Colton's heart. 

"About 80 percent of the children we see with congenital heart disease we know in advance which is great. Sometimes a team needs to be scrubbed and ready to act or we plan for four months down the road like with Colton," said Dr. Hancok-Friesen. 

While the diagnosis felt isolating, the Campbell family learned they were not alone. Both work at Anderson High School. Erin is an assistant principal and her husband, David, teaches math. Both heard from co-workers and students who knew of family members of friends who were diagnosed at birth with heart disease. 

"The only way he's going to know he had something wrong is the scar on his chest," said David Campbell. 

The Campbell family is grateful for Colton's team. He's a happy, healthy 9-month-old on the verge of taking his first steps. 

 
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