The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 21, 2009

Tots' hearts healed simply

'U' procedure avoids open heart surgeries

MANKATO — Lori and Mark Haman may be the luckiest set of unlucky parents you’ll ever meet.

They have two gorgeous daughters full of life and spirit. But that’s not why they’re lucky.

Their girls, Josie, 3, and Jenna, 1, were born with a holes in the upper chamber of their hearts, a genetic stroke of bad luck for them and their worried parents. In some cases the condition can be fixed in a pediatric heart catheterization lab. In more serious cases, it requires open-heart surgery.

So here’s why they’re lucky: They’ve had a relatively uneventful road to getting those hearts repaired. No sleepless nights. No brushes with death. Just a handful of hospital visits, competent medical professionals and smooth recoveries.

Because of advances in medical technology, both girls were able to undergo successful and minimally invasive procedures that repaired their hearts and gave them normal lives.

For Josie, their older daughter, the problem first came to the Hamans’ attention during a well-baby check. Josie had a heart murmur, and their doctor suggested they have a specialist look at it.

That specialist was University of Minnesota pediatric cardiologist James Moller, who knew instantly — after listening to Josie’s heart — what the problem was.

“As soon as he heard it,” Lori Haman says, “he drew a picture of it and started talking about treatments.”

Moller’s treatment of choice is insertion of an Amplatzer Septal Occluder, a device invented by a U of M doctor. The device acts as a patch for the hole in the heart.

Josie was adopted. And when her biological sibling was born, the mother chose to give her up for adoption as well. As the parents of the new baby’s sibling, they had the option of adopting Jenna, which they did. And not long after welcoming her home, a routine doctor visit showed she suffered from the same heart malady as her big sister.

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