In 2016, 6-year-old Alec Ahmad loved club soccer, playing games with his two brothers, and running around with his friends at recess. He was full of energy. But every once in a while, during an activity, he would feel out of breath. Neither Alec, nor his parents Angela and Kamran, paid it any mind; after all, it makes sense for someone to tire themselves out. Then, at a routine checkup, everything changed, says Medical XPress. Alec was diagnosed with Scimitar syndrome.
Within weeks of his diagnosis, Alec was scheduled for open-heart surgery. But following his surgery, a few months later, he was shocked at the result. Suddenly, he could run around without feeling fatigued or short of breath!
Around 25% of children with congenital heart defects require surgery before 1 year old. While Alec didn’t fall into this category, his parents are thankful that they discovered his condition before it worsened.
Now, at 10 years old, Alec is happy, healthy, and recovering well. His experience prompted his mother to join the board of her local American Heart Association. However, the most important lesson the family learned was the importance of funding for medical research, says Kamran, which helps early detection become possible.
Scimitar syndrome is a rare congenital heart disorder characterized by an abnormal arrangement of pulmonary veins. Instead of carrying oxygenated blood from the lungs, it drains into the inferior vena cava, preventing adequate blood flow throughout the body. It affects around 3 out of every 100,000 infants.
If symptomatic, people with Scimitar syndrome may experience:
- Rapid breathing
- Anomalies such as congenital cardiac diseases, hypoplasia of the right lung, or Dextrocardia
- Cyanosis (a bluish coloring of the skin)
- Shortness of breath
- Poor growth
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension
- Respiratory distress
Learn more about Scimitar syndrome.