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Hunter Thomas, born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina, has spent more than 20 years in the grandstands at Darlington Raceway and knew he would work in racing one day. To no one’s surprise, he co-founded a news website focusing on motorsports and spends his time at the racetrack taking pictures and capturing the stories of the drivers and teams. “I’m rocking and rolling, living life in the fast lane,” he says with a smile.
But things weren’t always that way. “I was born a blue baby. And I was quickly diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot,” Hunter says. “I had my first open-heart surgery was when I was about 10 months old.” That didn’t stop Hunter from having an active childhood. “You wouldn’t have known that I had heart problems because the doctors did so well,” he says.
His congenital heart disease started bothering him when he was heading into high school. “That’s when you really find out you’re different than some of the other healthier folks,” he says. “I just couldn’t keep up.” Hunter and his physician, John Rhodes, M.D., Pediatric and Adult Invasive Cardiologist, Medical University of South Carolina, had a conversation about his symptoms and condition. Open-heart surgery was the only option at the time, so Hunter decided to wait.
Thanks to my Medtronic Harmony valve, I've been able to get back to life as quickly as possible.Hunter
When his symptoms began to worsen, Hunter and Dr. Rhodes had another conversation. This time, there was hope. “When Dr. Rhodes told me about the Medtronic Harmony valve, it was such a relief because it took the open-heart surgery completely out of the picture,” Hunter says.
“We told him if we can get him into the pit stop — which is the cath lab — and place this Harmony valve in a way to take away the insufficiency in his pulmonary valve, he’d be ready to just hit the track and go as fast as he wants to go,” Dr. Rhodes says, alluding to Hunter’s love of racing.
Dr. Rhodes was spot-on. “Thanks to my Medtronic Harmony valve, I’ve been able to get back to life as quickly as possible,” Hunter says. “I noticed immediately that I could breathe so much better in the mornings. There's just such a difference in sleep, difference in waking up, I can last longer throughout the day... nothing’s going to hold me back.”
This story recounts the experience of one patient who received a Harmony transcatheter pulmonary valve. Medtronic invited this person to share his story candidly. Caution: Experience, risks, outcomes, and results vary. Possible risks of Harmony TPV include irregular rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, break in the valve frame, and leakage around the valve frame. Patient experience may not be comparable to that of Hunter's, depending in part upon the condition of the patient or with the techniques, facilities, or products used.
Physician experience, risks, patient outcomes and results may vary. Individuals with congenital heart disease (CHD) require lifelong management under the care of a CHD physician.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.