We Are All Adopted

Cyndi’s Heart Condition

Hey all this is Ben! I’m here to tell you about my lovely wife Cyndi and her wonderful heart. It’s an amazing story, so I hope you’ll follow along with me for the whole thing.


Cyndi was born with endo-cardio cushion and multiple congenital cardiovascular defects. In the simplest terms, this means that Cyndi was born both with a hole in her heart and a Mitral valve that didn’t work. Without serious medical attention she would not survive.

Luckily, thanks to outstanding care of the doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic, multiple surgeries, and a bit of nifty NASA space metal (yay NASA!), Cyndi has lived a full and relatively healthy life. Cyndi had open heart surgery multiple times as a child and her faulty Mitral valve was replaced with a “Saint Jude Valve” (it’s an amazing piece of hardware on many levels. Check it out here). The ramifications of this are many fold.

First, Cyndi is terrible at hide-and-go seek. The mitral valve ticks with every beat of her heart like a grandfather clock. This does not make for good concealment despite her advanced ninja skills.

Secondly, Cyndi has to take a blood thinning medication called Coumadin in order to prevent blood from clotting around her valve. These blood clots can discharge and cause serious health problems, even death. Coumadin is a wonderful medication because it keeps Cyndi safe from these potentially fatal risks.

Thirdly, due to the size of Cyndi’s valve, the increased risk of exsanguination during delivery, and potential birth defects that come from taking Coumadin, it is also extremely dangerous for Cyndi to bear children. Coumadin, while providing life saving benefits, can also cause mid-line birth defects (such as spina bifida) if taken during the time of conception and/or pregnancy. Additionally, Cyndi’s artificial valve cannot stretch like a normal mitral valve can, and so it can’t handle the additional blood that the mother produces during pregnancy.

To be clear it is technically possible for Cyndi to bear children, but the risks are too great to accept. Since we were married 5 years ago, we’ve been working closely with some of the best cardiologists in the nation here at the world-class University of Utah Cardiology department. The expert opinion of Cyndi’s caregivers is that we should not pursue natural pregnancy. Both the potential mortal risk to Cyndi’s health and the risk to the health and life of the baby are statistically higher than they, or we, are willing to accept. Cyndi’s doctors have, however, deemed us entirely fit to be parents and are almost as excited for us to adopt as we are!


That’s only part of the story though, keep reading! →