Ben Tunnell & Leslie Edwardson

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Meet Ben Tunnell & Leslie Edwardson,
Ben is living well after open heart surgery

“Our family will be forever grateful to the support we received from the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada during a very trying time in any parent’s life — helping our five-year-old son Ben get through and recover from open heart surgery.”
– Leslie Edwardson

Imagine: the doctors and specialists realize there is something wrong with your heart, but they can’t pinpoint the problem. First, one doctor believes there is a slight heart murmur. Another doctor believes the heart murmur is more serious and orders tests, but the EKG test results are fine. Next up are specialists, who discover that the person’s blood pressure is highly abnormal — high blood pressure in the upper body but low pressure in the lower body. Next comes an angioplasty, but this isn’t successful. Finally, a research team is pulled together to determine next steps.

The next and final step is open heart surgery to correct a too narrow aorta and a blocked aorta. The solution is to take out the blockage, slit the whole aorta arch (the arch is the second major anatomical region of the aorta, curving above the heart between the ascending and descending aorta) and graft tissue onto it to expand the aorta to what would be a normal size.

Now imagine: all of this involves a five-year-old boy.

Ben Tunnell’s journey to wellness was indeed a bumpy road. But the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada was there for the family every step of the way. “The Foundation played a huge role in educating us about heart and stroke issues, helping us understand what we could expect in terms of Ben’s surgery, and how to help our son recover and get through what was a very difficult situation,” says Ben’s mom, Leslie Edwardson.

“The family is so fortunate that the surgery was successful because Ben was a high-risk case,” adds Leslie. Grateful for the support it received, the family has remained involved with the Heart & Stroke Foundation, one of 16 national health charities working under the HealthPartners umbrella to transform the health of Canadians. Ben is a teenager now — “living proof that donating to HealthPartners works.”

Heart & Stroke is dedicated to reducing the incidence of disability and death resulting from heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada. Heart and Stroke works to reduce this number through research, education and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

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