Aibe Shreve is only four years old, and he has already overcome so many obstacles in his short life. The little boy from Ohio Valley was born with two holes in his heart; doctors assumed they would close as time passed. They were wrong. At a two year checkup, he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a condition that is very rare in children.
About Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare form of high blood pressure that impacts the arteries of the lungs and right side of the heart. It results in symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pressure and pain, shortness of breath, fainting spells, a bluish tint to the lips and skin, and swelling in the ankles, legs, and abdomen. If left untreated, complications may arise. They include bleeding in the lungs, complications in pregnancy, blood clots, heart failure, and arrhythmia. These symptoms and subsequent complications are the result of alterations to the cells that line the pulmonary arteries, which then cause the arteries to become stiff, thick, and swollen. This slows down or even blocks blood flow. In terms of treatment, there is no cure. Doctors will work to manage symptoms and slow disease progression. They may prescribe blood vessel dilators, endothelin receptor antagonists. warfarin, high-dose calcium channel blockers, sildenafil, guanylate cyclase stimulators, tadalafil, diuretics, digoxin, and oxygen therapy. Surgery may be necessary in some cases, with common procedures being a heart or lung transplant or an atrial septostomy.
When Aibe was born with two holes in his heart, his doctors thought they would close on their own over time. After two years, the holes remained, urging doctors to investigate. They diagnosed him with pulmonary hypertension. Sadly, they also told Aibe’s parents, Reba and Michael, that their son only had two to four years left to live.
Reba and Michael refused to accept this estimate and sent Aibe’s medical records to doctors across the country. Their plan worked, and doctors scheduled open heart surgery. For five hours, Reba and Michael waited in the hospital as Aibe underwent the procedure.
The surgery was a success, and Aibe recovered fantastically. In fact, they thought he would need four weeks in the hospital to recover, but it only took him four days. Aibe went home healthy.
The family had to confront more obstacles later; the FDA didn’t approve of an of the meds that their son needed. Fortunately, the community rallied around Aibe and organized fundraisers. Goals were met, and he was able to get treatment.
Most recently, doctors cleared Aibe for sports. His family is so excited for him to be able to play sports and accomplish so much more.
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