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Children's Hospital Foundation Supports Pediatric Team For Young Heart Patient

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When an Oklahoma mother learned her son had a heart defect, it set in motion a plan of care. From doctors to nutritionists, Matthew Blissard had a team of experts by his side. Now, he's three years old and thriving.

"Matthew is a ball of energy," said Kelli Blissard, Matthew's mother.

Only one side of Matthew Blissard's heart is pumping but looking at him running through the playground at Children's Hospital, you'd never know it.

"He has more energy than 10 normal three-year-olds," she said. "It's really amazing."

Blissard credits her son's progress with an early diagnosis that made before he was even born.

"She said, 'There's something very different about your baby's heart,'" Blissard remembers being told at one of her prenatal appointments. "It's hard to wrap your brain around."

Matthew has transposition of the great arteries, a heart defect, where the heart's main vein and artery have switched places.

"Sometimes they can just flip them," she said, "switch them back, and put them in the right place, but Matthew was a complicated case."

Dr. Harold Burkhart at Children's Hospital discovered one of Matthew's pumping chambers was blocked.

"You could tell with Matthew that he was getting bluer," said Dr. Harold Burkhart, Medical Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Children's Hospital. "They were keeping him from getting too blue by trying to keep this extra artery open with some medicine."

Just a few weeks old, Matthew underwent his first open heart surgery. Over the next two years, Matthew would have three more surgeries.

"It's really a challenge because you know your baby's going to be in pain and they're going to be confused," Blissard said about watching her son go through so many surgeries. "They have lots of tubes and wires coming out of them."

It's been one year since his last operation, so the family brought him in to visit with Dr. Burkhart, who hasn't seen him since.

"I thank God every day for bringing Dr. Burkhart to Oklahoma City," Blissard said. "We're just so fortunate to have him here."

However, Dr. Burkhart said he couldn't do it without his pediatric team supported by Children's Hospital Foundation.

"It's not one person," Dr. Burkhart said. "It's a group of a lot of people, as you can imagine, from all walks of medical care, that have to come together to take care of these kids. It's a lifelong devotion to make sure this child leads a normal life."

Click here to learn more about the Children's Hospital Foundation.

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