My son Eliott collapsed on the field during a soccer game when he was 9. It was the worst day of my life. It was also the most blessed day because he survived. I ran out onto the field expecting a bump or bruise, but Eliott was unconscious. I called out for help. Another parent, a doctor, ran onto the field.
Emergency room doctors in Virginia diagnosed Eliott with a dangerous congenital heart defect called Long QT syndrome. He would need an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a small device to monitor and automatically treat any abnormal heart rhythms. They warned Eliott that he’d never play sports again. They told us they couldn’t perform the surgery for a few weeks and sent us home.
My wife, Christina, did not want to wait. She found Dr. Charles Berul, a cardiologist and electrophysiologist at Children’s National Hospital. He made time for us that day when he heard what happened. Dr. Berul’s level of expertise was immediate and obvious. He acted quickly, performing surgery the next morning to install Eliott’s ICD. Dr. Berul also encouraged Eliott to keep his heart healthy by staying active and prescribed a medication to maintain a regular heart rhythm.
Dr. Berul and his nurses have a rare holistic family approach. They tested our entire family and identified the same syndrome in me and my younger daughter Abigail. Dr. Berul sees Eliott and Abby regularly. This care has protected us. It also has enabled Eliott — now a 16-year-old who loves to play cello and playing basketball with his friends — to get back to the things he loves.
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