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    Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento

    Nicholas - Born with a Heart Defect - Now Brings Hope

    Nicholas -
    Nicholas - Born with a Heart Defect - Now Brings Hope

    If you were to watch 19-year-old Nick shoot hoops with his friends or play golf on his collegiate team, you would see the picture of health.  But underneath his golf polo is a scar on his chest – a little reminder of all he has overcome to be the athlete, son, brother and student he is today.

    Kirsten delivered Nick via C-section. While in recovery waiting for her newborn son to be brought to her bedside, she got the news that Nick had some blue spells and a heart murmur and they couldn’t bring him to see her.

    “That’s when we first met pediatric cardiologist Dr. Juris,” said Kirsten. “He explained to us that Nick had truncus arteriosus and that he would have to undergo surgery. I was in total fear.”

    Despite having his first heart surgery when he was only seven days old and a second surgery at six months, Nick was able to have a normal childhood. At age 2 he started playing golf with his dad. By age 5 he was asking his pediatric cardiologist, Andrew Juris, M.D., if he could join a soccer team.  From there, Nick went on to play baseball and basketball.

    “Dr. Juris and I joke that Nick was born with a ball in his hand,” said Kirsten. “He is a wonder kid.”

    Nick continued to see Dr. Juris yearly to monitor his condition and to evaluate when he would need another surgery. “Dr. Juris and I have a brotherly relationship,” said Nick. “I have known him my whole life, so he is part of the family. We like to joke around and talk about sports.”

    Nick had two additional surgeries at Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento, one at age 12 and another with pediatric cardiovascular surgeon Teimour Nasirov, M.D., at age 17.

    “After his last surgery, Dr. Nasirov stayed all night to make sure he could monitor Nick,” said Kirsten. “The nurses were so amazing, they always kept us updated and they did such a good job calming the nerves of Nick’s worried 10-year-old brother.”

    In addition to having the support of his family and Drs. Juris and Nasirov, Nick has had the support of the kids and counselors he has met while attending Camp Taylor, a camp dedicated to kids with heart conditions. He has attended the camp for the past 10 years and is now a camp counselor, providing hope to other kids who are going through similar experiences.

    “I have had to switch insurances a few times so we can keep Nick with his Sutter doctors,” said Kirsten. “We have been to other university hospitals, but with Sutter it is more intimate. They really listen and they know how to work with kids.”

    While Nick will continue to be monitored by his doctors, he is focused on his future. He is studying kinesiology in college and hopes to be an athletic trainer with the NBA or NFL.



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