“Deborah is different because they care about the patients. Dr. Madan and the other pediatric cardiologists aren’t just treating them; they’re working to help the children take their mind off their conditions. This also applies to my wife and I as parents. Instead of being fearful of what may or may not happen with Dominic’s condition, we are able to feel confident that the doctors at Deborah are providing our son with the very best care available. “

                                                                                                         Mr. John Austino, Dominic’s father; Retired, State of NJ Human Services Police


 

Like so many other high school students, COVID-19 forced me, my classmates and teammates, to complete our school year from home. Not being at school was challenging, but not being able to play baseball this season was really tough. I am hopeful we’ll be able to start our senior year, healthy and on time.

When I was 6 years old, I tested genetically positive for Long QT Syndrome type 1 (LQT1) with the history coming from my mother’s side of the family. Thankfully, I’m asymptomatic and have been on a beta blocker since, with no restrictions. Whenever participating in sports, I take all possible precautions, as does my school district and various coaches. In addition to my medication, there is always an automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby in case there is an incident. 

 

As a result of this congenital life-threatening cardiac condition, my parents would take me each summer to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for testing. I’m sure it was no pleasure trip for them, but as a kid, the last thing you want to do is give up a few days of your summer vacation and travel halfway across the country for doctor’s appointments.

Although my grandpa was a long-time patient at Deborah and my father continues to receive a comprehensive annual physical exam offered through Deborah’s statewide police and first responders program, it wasn’t until the summer of 2019 that we learned about the Children’s Heart Center at Deborah.

As the state’s only specialty heart hospital, my parents were thrilled that a first-class pediatric cardiology program was located so close to home right here in New Jersey. We could not have found a better organization. No more trips to Minnesota! The pediatric cardiologists are compassionate, intelligent, and totally vested in my well-being. They genuinely care for me and often check in with my parents and me throughout the year.

“Long QT syndrome is a rare condition which can be inherited or caused by a medication or condition. It often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as a seizure disorder, such as epilepsy. People with this condition may not develop symptoms for a long time. When symptoms do occur, however, they can be severe, and may include sudden fainting, seizures, or even sudden death.”

                                                                             
                                                                                Dr.
Nandini Madan, Pediatric Cardiologist, Deborah Heart and Lung Center

 

 

Even though I haven’t been a patient at Deborah for too long, I’ve witnessed the growth of their pediatric cardiology department. The practice, located in the Cymrot Building on the Deborah campus, provides extraordinary diagnosis and treatment plans for neo-natal patients all the way up to 18 years old. The caring staff of doctors and nurses work closely with other area specialists to insure the best care is available to their patients who live with complex issues, like me.

Dr. Nandini Madan is my pediatric cardiologist, and she’s been a blessing to my family. While there is no cure for Long QT Syndrome, Dr. Madan has instituted an effective treatment plan that will permit me to remain active and live a normal life.  Well… as normal as a teenager’s life can be.

On behalf of all the kids that come to Deborah with dreams and goals for their futures, I hope you will consider being very generous with your financial support of Deborah Hospital Foundation. We need to make sure their pediatric cardiology department continues providing the region’s best heart care to patients of all ages, from little kids to teenagers like me. During the summer, I usually play on a travel baseball team and enjoy watching the Phillies games with my dad. Unfortunately, this appears it will be the first summer I’ll know without baseball.  Hopefully, football will return in the fall and we’ll at least have the Eagles to root for.

Thank you,

                     

 

                                             






Dominic Austino (age 17)



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