Joy’s Story

November 01, 2021

Joy was born with a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot — a combination of four different problems that causes insufficient blood circulation.

Joy, now 22 years old, from Sisaket, was born with a congenital heart defect. Her heart had a combination of four different problems: a ventricular septal defect (VSD), overriding aorta, pulmonary stenosis, and right ventricular hypertrophy. The medical term for this condition is called tetralogy of Fallot, commonly known as TOF.  This resulted in insufficient blood circulation which had a generalized effect on her body causing cyanosis, where a baby’s skin appears blue.

Joy’s story began right when she was born. She weighed only a bit over 1 kilogram. As her sister first laid eyes on her, she said, “Oh, she’s so tiny. She’s as small as a bottle.”
Baby Joy was constantly in and out of hospitals until she received her first surgery at the delicate age of 2 years, receiving a Blalock-Taussig shunt. The surgery was performed at a Khon Kaen hospital. Although a success, this was only the first of many heart surgeries she required. After this first surgery, both her health and appearance seemed to improve, but it was certain that more surgeries would follow. For a long time Joy was able to go about her daily life after her surgery, able to go through school and completing Matthayom 3 (ninth grade) at age 15. However, around this time, she was beginning to feel weak and sick once again.

Due to coming from a less fortunate family, Joy was able to receive help from the Cardiac Children Foundation, which came with a referral to the Rak Jai Thai (Healing Hearts) program of the Bumrungrad Hospital Foundation. And with her urgent need for treatment, the foundation quickly took her case. In July of 2015, Joy was able to undergo a major heart surgery, along with being prescribed the required heart medications, which helped to extend her life to this very day.  

Although Joy received the most advanced medical care through the program, it was evident that her heart will eventually weaken again. Unfortunately, the only next available option is to replace her heart completely.

During the past 6 years, Joy has been receiving ongoing follow-ups. She is still of below average weight but is able to help herself get though each day, as well as help her family sell vegetables at the local market. On October 1, 2021, Joy suddenly felt as if she was going to faint. Soon after she went in to see Dr. Preecha Laohakunakorn, a pediatric cardiologist at Bumrungrad. The doctor attached a Holter monitor to monitor her heart for the next 24 hours. A cardiothoracic technologist set her up and offered additional advice before letting her go home. The following day, Joy came back to the hospital to remove the monitoring device and hear her results. The results concluded that there was no irregular heartbeat and she was okay. So the doctor adjusted her medication and scheduled her next visit, which was 10 days later. Joy stated that she felt well at this point and even had a much better appetite. She even gained weight, going from 27 kilograms to 28 kilograms. Her next appointment would be in 2 months. 
Joy is someone who smiles often. May her smile always be a part of her life.
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