About Darby


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Darby's Heart Defect
Darby's pediatrician detected a heart "murmur" when Darby was one week old, and the following week an echocardiogram revealed she had been born with a congenital heart defect called "Tetralogy of Fallot."

Tetralogy of Fallot accounts for 10% of all congenital heart defects and is the most common cyanotic heart defect.  At birth, Darby's heart had four problems:

1. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) - This is a hole between the left and right ventricles which allows a mixing of oxygen-depleted blood and oxygen-rich blood.

2. Pulmonary stenosis - This is a narrowing of the pulmonary trunk.

3. Overriding Aorta - The aorta overrides the ventricular septal defect causing the aorta to take up oxygen-depleted blood and pump it back out into the body.

4. Hypertrophy - The right ventricle becomes enlarged (more muscular) because it has to work harder due to the pulmonary stenosis.

This text book description tells you what is wrong, but not how it is fixed. 

Darby's Surgery
On August 30, 1996 Darby had open heart surgery at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA to repair the hole between her heart's ventricles, enlarge her pulmonary valve, and restructure how the aorta comes into her heart.


Kelly and Darby in the ICU after Darby's surgery

Darby spent nine days recovering in the intensive care unit, followed by a day in the step-down unit before going home.


Darby and sister, Devan,
two months after Darby's surgery
October 1996

  Age 8
Darby is now eight years old and in third-grade. 

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Darby with sister, Devan
July 2004

Her annual cardiac check-ups show no problems, and she continues to be happy and active.  She has started taking guitar lessons and still plays the piano.  This year she joined the swim team and is looking forward to playing soccer again in the fall.

Age 7
At seven years of age, Darby is an active and healthy second-grader.  She's working on her goal-keeping skills and likes to play as the goal keeper for her "under 8" soccer team.  Darby enjoys gymnastics, roller-blading, swimming, and riding her bike.  She recently took up piano lessons and is off to a great start - she really seems to have an ear for music.  


Darby keeping goal - September 2003

Darby is an active volunteer for the American Heart Association and has appeared on local radio and cable TV stations and a local hospital to promote fund raising for an organization that is very near and dear to her heart.

Along the way, Darby has met many people that have become good friends, including host Jo Painter at Berks County radio station, WEEU.


Darby and Jo Painter promoting the heart walk on WEEU
September 2002

Darby joined Jo Moon and Jim Catanach of the American Heart Association - Berks Division on air at WEEU.