Lucas R. Collazo, MD, is board-certified in thoracic, cardiac and pediatric cardiac surgery and is a member of Inova Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery. He practices with the Inova Children’s Heart Program and the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute and has a special interest in congenital heart disease. Read Dr. Collazo’s profile.
Every year, I attend the Annual StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run, an event that brings together former patients, their families, physicians and nurses in support of the Inova Children’s Heart Program. I always intend to run or walk in the race – but often, I get so busy catching up with my former patients and their families that I never make it to the starting line.
As a nationally recognized children’s heart program, we see hundreds of patients each year. But we’re proud of the ongoing, personalized care we provide to each and every one. And thanks to advances in pediatric heart surgery over the 10 years since the race began, our patients are living long, healthier lives.
A Decade of Improved Pediatric Heart Diagnosis and Care
Congenital heart disease is a condition in which the heart or the nearby blood vessels do not develop normally before birth. Heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting about 1 in every 120 babies. I specialize in surgery to repair these defects.
Usually we diagnose heart defects in infancy and childhood, though sometimes symptoms don’t show up for decades. But a major improvement over the last decade has been in diagnosing heart defects before birth. Thanks to better prenatal imaging technology, we’re able to diagnose many cases of congenital heart disease before babies are even born.
Prenatal diagnosis allows us to meet with families before their babies arrive, so we can help them understand what to expect. It also allows us to create a plan for the baby’s care and treatment. Better imaging helps the medical staff prepare, too. There are fewer surprises, and with a treatment plan in place, we don’t have to go through the stress of trying to diagnose a sick baby.
We’ve also seen important advances in cardiac catheterization procedures over the last 10 years. With catheterization, we can access the heart with a small tube inserted into a blood vessel, which eliminates the need for open surgery. As much as I enjoy the challenge of heart surgery, I don’t want to operate on anyone unless it’s the best option for my patient.
Raising Awareness of Heart Defects
The Inova Children’s Heart Program provides specialized heart care to children of all ages. Together, my fellow surgeons and I perform more than 300 heart surgeries on children every year.
The StarKid event helps support our program financially, but it also helps raise awareness of congenital heart disease. I am passionate about helping these kids and their families get through the most difficult period of their lives — and with every dollar raised, my colleagues and I are able to do just that.
Learn more about the StarKid 5K and Family Fun Run and register to participate.