This is the story of Jeffrey and his journey through the diagnosis and treatment of a heart abnormality called a "co-arctation of the aorta". This is a type of heart problem that a fraction of a percent of babies are born with, and often doesn't cause trouble until later in life.

A co-arctation involves a narrowing of the aorta - which is the major blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The diagnosis and treatment of this condition has been dramatically changed in recent years through new medical technology.

The sort of MRI scanner used to image Jeffrey's heart has only been widely available for a few years, and it is only very recently that they have been able to produce the sort of high quality images that make the problem very clear, as we see in this film.

Co-arctation of the aorta has traditionally been treated with a major operation, involving opening the chest. But now, as in Jeffrey's case, many patients with this problem can be treated through a small incision near their groin, through which a special device called a stent is inserted.

Using live x-ray imaging, the surgeon can guide the stent through the patient's blood vessels towards the heart, where it is used to widen the aorta.

Jeffrey's treatment is highly successful, and he is soon back playing his beloved football. He is, however, left thinking that the sort of science he always found dull during lessons at school is rather more relevant to his life than he had ever imagined.
Derek Hill, Summer 2008
For more information on the things explored in this story, have a browse of the following web sites:

British Heart Foundation www.bhf.org.uk and their blog  britishheartfoundation.blogspot.com

Children’s Heart Federation: www.childrens-heart-fed.org.uk

Childrens Heart Association: www.heartchild.info/cha

NHS Choices Heart Blog: talk.nhs.uk/blogs/heart/default.aspx

Great Ormond Street Hospital where Jeffery was treated: www.gosh.nhs.uk/gosh_families

A list of other related groups and organizations: www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/211/