Fixing a broken heart

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Patrick walsh
BRAVE BOY: Patrick Walsh, 6, pictured with mum Melanie, will travel to the United States in May for open heart surgery.

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Patrick Walsh needs help to fix his broken heart.

The six-year-old Glen Eden resident has a rare congenital defect called Ebstein's Anomaly.

His heart's tricuspid valve is in the wrong place and the mitral valve is prolapsed, meaning it doesn't open and close correctly, causing blood to flow through the atrium instead of the veins.

There are no surgeons in New Zealand or Australia who specialise in Ebstein's Anomaly operations so Patrick will travel to the United States on May 16 for open heart surgery.

"I'm going to have a heart operation," Patrick says. "Because one of my valves has little holes in it."

The surgery will cost around $200,000 and friends of his parents, Melanie and John Walsh, have set up a fundraising page on the online site Givealittle to help with finances. So far they've raised over $7000 with help from kind-hearted supporters. Mr and Mrs Walsh are also in the process of liaising with the Health Ministry to see if funding options are available.

Top Ebstein's surgeon Joseph Dearani will perform a cone repair operation on Patrick at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Patrick's tricuspid valve will be repaired and if needed, a bidirectional cavopulmonary shunt operation will be performed to transfer blood straight to his lungs instead of through the heart.

Mrs Walsh says Patrick needs to have the operation now before it gets too hard to repair the problem.

"He can't do any physical activity now but after the operation he'll have a higher tolerance and be able to run around, it will be amazing," she says.

Patrick attends Woodlands Park School and loves playing with his older siblings Alec, 11, and Elise, 8. He can't wait to be active after surgery.

"I love riding my scooter and playing with friends," he says.

Patrick was born with the condition but it wasn't diagnosed until he was three years old.

An X-ray initially detected it because the youngster was always sick and became breathless when running around.

Mrs Walsh says the operation is likely to keep her son fit and healthy through to his teenage years and then he'll probably need more surgery.

EBSTEIN'S ANOMALY

■ It is a rare congenital heart defect

■ There are no surgeons in New Zealand or Australia who specialise in Ebstein's Anomaly operations

■ Patrick needs to go to America for a cone repair operation

■ The operation will cost around $200,000.

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