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Monday, January 14, 2013

That Doesn't Happen to Kids

I have had more than a handful of people tell me over the past 5 years that kids can't have high blood pressure.  It is only for older adults.  Guess what....WRONG!  Children can and do have high blood pressure.  5 1/2 years ago I was one of those parents that didn't know this could be true.  How fooled we were.  It wasn't until Matthew (4 1/2 at the time) was diagnosed with severe hypertension due to renal artery stenosis. Want to know the scary part?  He had probably had high blood pressure most of his little life.  As a mom, I was so upset that I did not know this.  I had not been told.  Why didn't anyone ever say to me that kids need to have bp screenings starting at age 3.

For those that don't know what high blood pressure can do to a child here are just a few:
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Vision Loss
  • Organ Failure
Hypertension does not come with a calendar to know that it doesn't need to strike until someone is over 50.  It can literally happen to anyone at any age.  This INCLUDES children.  Some could be as young as 2 or 3 years old.  And here is the kicker.......you DON'T HAVE TO BE OVERWEIGHT!

Matthew was just 4 1/2 years old and from every outward appearance was a child of great health.  He ate well, got regular exercise through play and activities, and smart beyond his years.  Then after a bout of recurring ear infections the decision was made to have tubes put in his ears and have his tonsils removed.  This proved to be the most life altering event for his little body. 

Fast forward nearly 6 years later and here is a breakdown of what undiagnosed hypertension meant for Matthew:

  • Emergent admission to the PICU where he fought for his life before a diagnosis could be made
  • Enduring the placement of an arterial line for continuous bp monitoring
  • Month long stay in the hospital in 2007
  • 3 different daily blood pressure medications to control his bp
  • Balloon angioplasty to attempt to open a 99% occlusion to his left renal artery in April 2007
  • Daily bp monitoring and strict sodium monitoring
  • Having an auto kidney transplant on December 23, 2008 in order to save his life and spending Christmas in the hospital
  • Developing hydronephrosis due to scar tissue from his transplant surgery
  • Having a stent that was too large placed to drain the urine causing massive bleeding and a blood clot to form requiring emergency surgery
  • Invasive re-implantation surgery October 5, 2009 to correct the hydronephrosis and re-implant his ureter to his bladder
  • Developing polyuria (overproduction of urine) and having his urinary tract not be able to keep up and requiring his bladder muscles to be retrained at 10 years old to void properly
  • Spending over half of his 10 years in and out of the hospital with numerous issues
  • Knowing that he will have a life long battle with renal issues and always watching over his shoulder for hypertension to rear it's ugly head again
For anyone this would be more than you would want to ever endure.  But for Matthew this has been his life.  Which means this has been our life.  This amazing child has handled it all with so much grace and dignity it would make any mother proud.  All he wants to do now is continue to fight and spread the message of routine bp screens and the NEED for every parent to  know that their child should have these lifesaving diagnostics.

As a mother, I want to scream at the top of a mountain how important this is.  We have learned so much and through tragedy comes triumph.  We are able to take such a dark time in our lives and use it for so much good.  Through the National Pediatric Blood Pressure Awareness Foundation we are able to save lives every single day.  What an amazing feeling to be able to give back. 

It is through everything that I have learned advocating for Matthew that I am now able to share this with the health care industry and help others.

To read Matthew's complete story and his amazing journey please visit www.bloodpressure4kids.org.  And remember KYKN...KNOW YOUR KID'S NUMBERS! 

Find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/edit/?id=110204345795440&sk=basic#!/pages/Healthcare-Mom-Kids-Can-Have-High-Blood-Pressure-Too/110204345795440

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