A White pre-school aged male patient plays on a playground slide.A White pre-school aged male patient plays on a playground slide.

A White pre-school-aged male patient shows his chest scar.Holden is a smiley kid who loves to dance and sing. He also likes to show his “bravery badge” to everyone he meets. His pride about the scar on his chest is well-earned. Holden had his first heart surgery at Children’s National when he was 4 days old to repair a life-threatening defect called coarctation of the aorta, or a blockage in the main artery of the heart. “Doctors and staff at the hospital had a calming presence, invited us into conversations and assured us that our son would soon be throwing a baseball,” says Holden’s dad, Dane.

The family later saw cardiologist Gerard Martin, M.D., at our Annapolis location for care close to home. “Dr. Martin has been a true partner in care,” says Kristen, Holden’s mom. “He set clear expectations and laid out the truth about the care Holden needed. Dr. Martin helped us create a plan for Holden’s future and gave us clarity about his clinical state. Everyone at Children’s National has been so compassionate."

Dr. Martin diagnosed Holden with subaortic stenosis, a rare disorder that caused a blockage in the left ventricle of his heart. It progressed rapidly. To repair it, Yves d'Udekem, M.D., Ph.D., chief of cardiac surgery and co-director of the Children’s National Heart Institute, performed a second surgery when Holden was 3.

Holden made a full recovery. He continues to see Dr. Martin every six months. “All of this care has allowed him to lead a healthy and happy life, despite the fact that his heart has needed a lot of help,” says Dane. “Thanks to his cardiac team, we know it is OK for Holden do the things he loves ― go to school, play with friends and learn to swim. They gave him that freedom.”

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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