Many families who deal with congenital heart disease in their children often feel quite isolated. After all, with only 1.2 out of every 100 babies afflicted with some form of CHD, it is easy to think that you are alone in your battle. Fortunately, incredible support groups such as Amazing Little Hearts bring families together, and introduce them to the fact that they are not alone!
It is also fun (and surprising) to reveal how many celebrities and public figures also deal with congenital heart disease. One of the most famous athletes for Team USA, Shaun White, has won many gold medals in Olympic snowboarding and skateboarding, all while being born with Tetralogy of Fallot!
Tedy Bruschi, now an NFL analyst for ESPN, has won multiple Super Bowl rings, all with a history of a repaired atrial septal defect. 7-time Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson has a congenital heart defect, as well as MMA Fighter/Kickboxer Mark “Fight Shark” Miller (aortic stenosis).
But congenital heart disease is not limited to current and ex-athletes. The entertainment world also harbors many CHD-survivors and thrivers. Singers Jessie J (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome) and Brian Littrell (Backstreet Boys, born with a ventricular septal defect) are only two of many individuals, including actor/governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (bicuspid aortic valve), singer Bret Michaels (atrial septal defect), and even ‘Survivor’ contestant Whitney Duncan (ASD).
In addition to being patients, there are many celebrities who, like you, parent a child with CHD as well. Fox News anchor Bret Baier has a son born with D-transposition of the great vessels, as does US Senator Ron Johnson. Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has a son with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and actor Mark Feuerstein has a daughter born with an anomalous coronary artery.
What does this all mean? Well, first and foremost, you are not alone! As your children get older, it will be interesting to see what unique traits they share with certain celebrities! Finally, we at Pediatric Heart Specialists are excited to see what the future holds for our patients – after all, we may be in the presence of a future star!
Dr. Amit Verma