What is tetralogy of Fallot – the disorder Jimmy Kimmel's son has?

Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2017 @ 10:12 AM

Jimmy Kimmel (L) and his wife, screenwriter Molly McNearney attend the premiere of Paramount Pictures'
Jimmy Kimmel (L) and his wife, screenwriter Molly McNearney attend the premiere of Paramount Pictures' "Office Christmas Party" at Regency Village Theatre on December 7, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)(Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

On Monday, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel told viewers in an emotional monologue that his newborn son had been diagnosed with a heart defect and underwent open heart surgery.

Kimmel said his son Billy, born on April 21, was discovered to have a disorder called tetralogy of Fallot (teh-TRAL-uh-jee of fuh-LOW), a congenital (meaning present at birth) disorder where the wall that separates the two sides of the heart is missing. 

Kimmel said his son had surgery last Monday and is now home recovering. 

Here’s a look at tetralogy of Fallot and pulmonary atresia, the other problem Kimmel said his son is suffering from.

What was Kimmel’s son diagnosed with?
The disorder is called tetralogy of Fallot. It is a rare condition – only about 5 children out of 10,000 are diagnosed with it each year.

What is it?
The disorder happens because of a structural problem with the heart. Tetralogy of Fallot is caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth.

What are the defects?

According to the Centers for Disease and Control, the defects are:

1. A hole in the wall between the two lower chamber – or ventricles – of the heart. This condition also is called a ventricular septal defect.

2. A narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery. This condition also is called pulmonary stenosis.

3. The aortic valves, which opens to the aorta, is enlarged and seems to open from both ventricles, rather than from the left ventricle only.

4. The muscular wall of the lower right chamber of the heart (right ventricle) is thicker than normal. This also is called ventricular hypertrophy.

What happens because of the problems?

The structure of the heart is affected and the defects cause blood that is oxygen-poor – meaning it has gone through the body and is being pumped back to the heart for recirculation – to be incorrectly routed through the body. Oxygen-poor blood is usually moved to the lungs to be infused with oxygen then routed through the heart to the brain and other organs. 

With tetralogy of Fallot, the blood mixes in the heart, sending the oxygen-poor blood throughout the body. Because the blood does not have enough oxygen, it leaves a baby’s skin with a blue tinge.

What is the treatment?

Surgery is needed soon after birth. During the surgery, doctors widen or replace the pulmonary valve and place a patch over the ventricular septal defect to close the hole between the two lower chambers of the heart. 

The surgery is incredibly delicate. Dr. Jennifer Ashton on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, offered this perspective on the complicated nature of the surgery: Try to imagine operating on an organ the size of a walnut with veins the diameter of angel-hair pasta.

Is it always diagnosed at birth?

No, not always, but usually. Sometimes it is diagnosed when the baby is still in the womb. Sometimes it is not diagnosed until later in life.

What about the other problem Kimmel mentioned – pulmonary atresia?

Pulmonary atresia (PULL-mun-airy ah-TREE-sha) is a birth defect of the pulmonary valve. That valve controls the blood flow from the right lower chamber of the heart into the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary atresia means that no pulmonary valve ever formed in the baby’s heart.

What caused these problems?

The cause of the defects is not known. Some are caused by gene or chromosome changes, some by something the mother and baby are exposed to – environmental factors or food, drinks or medication the mother uses. 

What is the prognosis? Can children with this lead normal lives?

The baby needs surgery not long after birth to repair the problem if possible. When the defects are caught early and the child is treated, most lead fairly normal lives. Usually, three surgeries are required to fix the defects. 

(Sources: Centers for Disease and Control, Mayo Clinic;

University of California San Francisco)

 

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Teacher contracts both flu strains, now on life support

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 3:41 PM

The Reason the Flu Shot Didn’t Work Half the Time During Last Year’s Flu Season

A special education teacher in Texas is fighting for her life after contracting both flu strains.

Crystal Whitley, 35, was physically active and had no underlying physical conditions, friends told WFAA, when she contracted both strains of influenza two weeks ago. She then developed pneumonia in both lungs and a MRSA infection.

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While she is showing some signs of improvement, Whitley remains on life support at Baylor Scott & White, WFAA reported.

Whitley received a flu shot after giving birth in October, friends told WFAA.

Doctors are cautiously optimistic about Whitley's chances for recovery, but told family that she could remain in the hospital for months, WFAA reported.

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Want to get rid of mosquitoes? Just swat them, study says 

Published: Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 3:29 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 27, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

7 Facts You Didn't Know About Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes can be really irritating, but there is one simple thing you can do to get rid of them. Just swat, a new report says. 

Researchers from the University of Washington recently conducted an experiment, published in Current Biology, to further explore what attracts the bugs to certain host species.

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To do so, they examined mosquitoes and their patterns. They found that the bugs can quickly learn and remember the smells of hosts as they store that information to develop preferences for particular agents.

However, they also pick up on movement, such as swatting. In fact, they can learn to associate an odor with an unpleasant gesture, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

They tested their theory by training the mosquitoes to pair a scent from a person or animal with a “mechanical shock,” which simulated swatting. The insects soon noticed the link between the two senses and flew in a different direction away from the hosts. 

» RELATED: Rain increases need to protect against mosquitoes that may carry Zika 

“Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents,” senior author Jeff Riffel said in a statement

The scientists also discovered that dopamine is essential to mosquito learning, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. During the second part of the study, they monitored the neurons in their brains. They found that without dopamine, “those neurons were less likely to fire,” leaving the mosquitoes with less ability to retain information. 

“By understanding how mosquitoes are making decisions on whom to bite, and how learning influences those behaviors, we can better understand the genes and neuronal bases of the behaviors,” said Riffell. “This could lead to more effective tools for mosquito control.” 

Researchers now want to further their investigations to determine how mosquitoes learn and remember sensations connected to their favored hosts. 

» RELATED: Google launches 10,000-person study to predict how and when people get sick 

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Mother of two dies just day after flu diagnosis

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot

A young mother of two in Arizona died just one day after receiving a flu diagnosis, devastated family members said.

Alani Murrieta, 20, was diagnosed with the flu Monday and died Tuesday in the hospital, family members told KSAZ.

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Murrieta, the mother of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, was healthy before the sudden illness, with no pre-existing health conditions, according to family. She first experienced symptoms Sunday, when she left work early. On Monday, she went to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with medications. She was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning as her symptoms became more severe and she was having difficulty breathing, KSAZ reported.

At the hospital, doctors performed tests and diagnosed Murrieta with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator, but her heart stopped. The efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.

While family members said Murrieta didn't get a flu shot, early results show this year's formula may not be very effective at combatting this year's flu strains.

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Florida surgeons to remove 10-pound tumor from Cuban boy's face

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 1:09 PM

File image of a surgery.
Pixabay
File image of a surgery.(Pixabay)

What began as a mere pimple on his son's face two years ago has grown into a life-threatening 10-pound tumor, Emanuel Zayas' father said.

The Zayas family, who live in Cuba, received a medical visa so the 14-year-old boy can have a complex procedure performed by surgeons in Miami, the Miami Herald reported. Dr. Robert Marx, chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery for the University of Miami Health System, said the tumor is life-threatening because of its weight and its position, which is pressing down on the boy's trachea.

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Zayas has trouble getting nourishment because of the tumor, and Marx said if left untreated, the tumor could fracture the boy's neck. The tumor is not cancerous, doctors said.

It will take a surgical team approximately 12 hours to perform the surgery, the Miami Herald reported. Zayas will face future surgeries to reconstruct facial features.

The cost of the surgery is expected to be approximately $200,000. The Jackson Health Foundation is raising money on the family's behalf to help cover medical costs. According to the foundation, Zayas was "born with a disorder called polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, a condition that replaces multiple areas of bones with fibrous tissue and may cause fractures and deformity of the legs, arms, and skull." 

The surgery will take place Jan. 12 at Holtz Children's Hospital, the Miami Herald reported.

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