When Zachary was born, he was diagnosed at Children’s National with pulmonary atresia—a life-threatening heart condition in which his pulmonary valve was sealed shut and blood could not get to his lungs to receive oxygen. Zachary also had an enlarged chamber and holes across the upper chambers of his heart.
Cardiologists Gerard Martin, MD, senior vice president of the Center for Heart, Lung and Kidney Disease, and Craig Sable, MD, director of echocardiography and medical director of telemedicine, successfully opened the sealed valve without having to perform open heart surgery. After the successful procedure, the doctors dubbed Zach the “miracle baby” and he was discharged at six weeks old.
In the next few years, Zach would have additional procedures for his heart condition. Before starting kindergarten, he had a cathertization to close two holes in his heart. When he was 9 years old, he underwent heart surgery to replace his pulmonary valve. Now, at age 11, Zachary’s heart is beating fine, and he’s an active baseball player. His mother says that you would not think that he has a severe heart condition by looking at him.
Thankful for the lifesaving care they received at Children’s National, the Blumenfelds established the Zachary Asher Blumenfeld Fund to raise funds to support the care of children fighting heart issues around the world. They are especially committed to assisting Dr. Sable, who is developing a surgery center in Uganda.
Two years ago, Zachary had the opportunity to meet some of the African patients he has helped support. Dr. Sable had brought two Ugandan patients to Children’s National for heart procedures, and Zachary asked Dr. Sable if they could come to one of his baseball games. This game was Zach’s first after his open heart surgery. Zachary was thrilled to share the game with the children from Uganda. He showed them how to play baseball and gave them ball caps and t-shirts.
Zachary is also developing a business plan to place slushy stands at local baseball camps and Little League games to raise funds to continue to save the lives of children with heart procedures just like him.