A Heart Surgery in China Saved Tristan’s Life

For children in China with a heart condition, immediate heart surgery is often their only hope. Adoptive mom Andrea shares about her son, Tristan, and how early intervention saved his life. 

As the mother of four children born in China with congenital heart disease , I am intimately familiar with the critical need for early medical intervention — often in the form of heart surgery — for children with heart conditions.

My eldest son, Tristan, was the only one of my children to receive heart surgery while still in China, and this saved his life.


Tristan before receiving heart surgery in China.
Tristan before receiving heart surgery in China.

Born with a very large ventricular septal defect (VSD) and moderate atrial septal defect (ASD), Tristan’s cardiac disease was considered minor and repairable when compared to the highly complex lesions that my other children were born with. However, Tristan developed secondary Pulmonary Hypertension as an infant due to his VSD. And this was made worse by the high elevation where he lived. Fortunately, he underwent open heart surgery to repair both the VSD and ASD at 10 months old.

When we arrived in China to adopt him six months later, though, something wasn’t quite right. His struggled to breathe when he moved too much. This made us suspicious that his health condition was not resolved. Our instincts were correct. The doctors discovered that Tristan’s Pulmonary Hypertension was not completely resolved.

But because Tristan received his repair so early in China and was adopted soon after, the damage to his lungs and pulmonary vasculature was significantly less. As a result, his pulmonary vasculature was still reactive. This means that it was still healthy and pliable rather than scarred and stiff. He was still able to have treatment.

Had he not had undergone surgery in China, by the time he was adopted, it would have been too late…


During my years as the executive director of Little Hearts Medical, some of the most tragic cases I saw were children with easily repairable forms of heart defects, but who were now inoperable and terminal because intervention did not come in time. But this was not the case for Tristan.

Tristan is now a thriving 10-year-old, stable and off of his medications. Pulmonary Hypertension is a disease that most cardiologists hesitate to declare as completely cured. But while Tristan will be monitored throughout his life, we expect him to live a normal lifespan.

Today, Tristan is healthy and active!
Today, Tristan is healthy and active!

Please consider giving this Valentine’s Day to help provide crucial heart surgeries to the children, like my son, whose lives depend on them!

Andrea | Tristan’s mom

This Valentine’s Day, you can help a child get the lifesaving heart surgery they need! 

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