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Fixing his broken heart: Benefit planned for 15-year-old Owen Rastedt after open heart surgery

Owen Rastedt is shown just before his open heart surgery was about to begin at the Mayo Clinic Jan. 19. Submitted photo1 / 2
Owen Rastedt with the buck he shot this November. Submitted photo2 / 2

Fifteen-year-old Owen Rastedt always prefered hunting and fishing over organized sports. He may not have known it, but taking on highly aerobic sports may have been quite dangerous for the 10th-grade student who is currently recovering from open heart surgery.

Owen, son of Dave and Tricia, is recovering from a surgery he had to help with his diagnosis of Ebstein's anomaly. A benefit is planned to help with costs the family incurred from the surgery and the additional care Owen is receiving at home.

Owen, a student at Perham-Dent High School, had surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Jan. 19. Five days later, he returned home. His family reports he is doing well, though as an avid outdoorsman, he is eager to get better.

It's expected Owen will need at-home care for six to eight weeks while he recovers. In order to limit germs entering the Rastedt home, which also is home to Tricia's Treasured Memories Daycare, Owen's mother has to limit childcare at their home while Owen heals. This is an additional strain on the family's income.

Owen's mother explained that the road to where they are now has been a bumpy one. They first noticed symptoms last May when Owen, 15, passed out. He passed out again at the end of June.

"When the EMT checked him out, his heart rate was a lot lower than it should have been for his age," Tricia said.

When they brought him in, doctors discovered an abnormality. An echocardiogram in August showed that Owen's tricuspid valve on his heart was not closing all the way causing regurgitation of blood within the heart. It looked like Ebstein's anomaly.

Ebstein's anomaly

Ebstein's anomaly is a rare heart defect that's present at birth (congenital), according to the Mayo Clinic. In Ebstein's anomaly, the tricuspid valve—the valve between the two right heart chambers (right atrium and right ventricle)—doesn't work properly. The tricuspid valve sits lower than normal in the right ventricle, and the tricuspid valve's leaflets are abnormally formed.

Symptoms can include shortness of breath, especially with exertion, fatigue, heart palpitations or abnormal heart rhythm or bluish discoloration of the lips and skin caused by low oxygen.

Choosing surgery

An appointment was to be set to have a surgery, but because doctors said it was non emergent, Owen voted to wait until after deer hunting. While the family dealt with the thought of oncoming surgery, Owen's grandmother was facing illness as well.

During the deer hunting season, Owen's grandmother, Helen Rastedt-Weinrich, passed away. Dealing with the loss and feeling restless, Owen went to the field and shot a buck.

"Then we found out more issues for him," Tricia said.

At the Mayo Clinic, physicians performed an electrophysiology test on Owen and determined he had an electrical malfunction in his heart that needed to be corrected. They froze a section of the heart causing the problem and had to insert an internal defibrillator into Owen's tissue in case his heart should fail.

Owen then had open heart surgery to fix the other abnormalities attributed to Ebstein's anomaly.

He returned home to his brother Tanner and twin sisters Lindsey and Lacey, feeling good and ready to see how vastly different his heart would function.

"It's been a real whirlwind experience," Tricia said.

Tricia was grateful for the doctors involved in the procedure and continues to be grateful for the outpouring from the community that has been helping in this difficult time.

Tricia said through it all, Owen has been strong.

"He's extremely strong," she said. "He's never once asked, 'Why me?' "

One person that has helped Owen through this whole thing is a young man from his grade, Devan Meyer. Devan also had heart surgery and went through much of what Owen has gone through. Being able to have someone his age to talk to about this scary episode was a major relief, Tricia said.

And despite all the problems that Ebstein's anomaly may have caused for Owen, doctors said the original indicator—fainting—was likely unrelated.

"The only thing we can chalk it up to is God and his guardian angels," Tricia said.

She believes if not for the fainting, they never would have discovered all that was going on in the heart of their son.

Owen's prognosis is that he is likely to go on to live a healthy life, finally some news the family wanted to hear.

February is heart health month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The good news? It is also one of the most preventable. Making heart-healthy choices, knowing your family health history and the risk factors for heart disease, having regular check-ups and working with your physician to manage your health are all integral aspects of saving lives from this often silent killer.

Ebstein's anomaly is a rare congenital condition found in approximately 1 in 20,000 live births. It accounts for less than 1 percent of all congenital heart defects.

INFO BOX

If you go

What: Owen Rastedt benefit

Where: Playtime Sports Bar

When: 3-7 p.m. Feb. 24

Why: The benefit includes a silent auction and spaghetti supper in order to help raise funds for the family due to the medical expenses they have incurred.