Brandy Lubozynski - Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Brandy Lubozynski

When she was just 3 months old, Brandy Lubozynski’s parents began noticing that their daughter was having difficulty breathing.

“My parents were concerned,” says Brandy. “Even something simple, like sucking on a bottle, was too difficult for me.”

Her parents took her to a specialist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where Brandy was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. Brandy underwent a surgical shunt procedure to increase blood flow to her lungs and temporarily improve her condition.

A few years later, at age 6, Brandy underwent open heart surgery for repair of Tetralogy of Fallot.

“Throughout my childhood, my parents never treated me any differently,” says Brandy. “I was able to play like a normal kid on my own terms. I continued to see the doctor every year until I was 21 years old.”

Brandy’s Journey to the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program

Over the next 40 years, Brandy lived a very normal life. But in March 2021, she began having trouble breathing.

“We were in Florida for my daughter’s cheer competition, and that’s when I really noticed how difficult it was to breathe,” says Brandy. “At the time, I just thought it was my asthma and asked our family physician to change my inhaler.”

After a few weeks with no improvement, Brandy decided to go to the emergency room near her home in Washington, PA.

“I couldn’t even walk to the garage without having to stop and catch my breath,” says Brandy. “So, in May, I finally decided to go to the emergency room. Originally, the team suggested that I had COVID-19. But after running several tests, they found that my left valve was only functioning at 20% and I had excess fluid in my abdomen.”

Brandy was discharged home after the team drained the excess fluid and referred to cardiologists at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Pittsburgh for additional care.

“I was admitted on a Tuesday and had several tests done over the next few days with Dr. Arvind Hoskoppal,” says Brandy.

Arvind Hoskoppal, MD, is an adult congenital and pediatric cardiologist and is the director of the UPMC Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center. His team collaborates closely with other experts in the UPMC Children’s Heart Institute to treat patients of all ages with congenital heart disease, including Brandy.

Brandy’s test results showed that she had severe left ventricular dysfunction, in addition to dilation and dysfunction of the right ventricle. While the right ventricular changes can be anticipated in someone with repaired Tetralogy of Fallot, the left ventricular dysfunction is less common and more concerning.

Dr. Hoskoppal quickly worked with the cardiologists in the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and in the UPMC Children’s Interventional Cardiology Program, part of UPMC Children’s nationally recognized Heart Institute, to determine the next steps for Brandy’s care.

Innovative Care at UPMC Children’s

Given Brandy’s severely diminished left heart function, she was not an ideal candidate to undergo a surgical pulmonary valve replacement (PVR). Bryan H. Goldstein, MD, a pediatric interventional cardiologist and director of the Interventional Cardiology Program at UPMC Children’s, evaluated Brandy’s candidacy for a transcatheter, minimally invasive approach to PVR.

Dr. Goldstein and his team determined that Brandy was a candidate for the new Medtronic Harmony® TPV, the first FDA-approved self-expanding transcatheter pulmonary valve system to treat children and adults with severe pulmonary regurgitation. Dr. Goldstein and his team were among the first in the world to implant the Harmony TPV following FDA approval in 2021.

“I got a call from Dr. Goldstein the day after I got home,” says Brandy. “He told me that I was a candidate for the new Harmony TPV and asked me to come to UPMC Children’s for the procedure. I was a little shocked; I never expected to go to UPMC Children’s. But most importantly, I just wanted to breathe again.”

On May 27, 2021, Brandy underwent successful placement of a Harmony TPV in the cardiac catheterization lab at UPMC Children’s. She recovered well and was discharged the following day.

“Dr. Goldstein and the entire team were great,” says Brandy. “If I had to undergo the procedure again, I hope Dr. Goldstein would be the person to do it.”

Brandy’s Follow-Up Results

Brandy attended appointments with Dr. Hoskoppal every six months following her procedure.

“Both hospitals were great throughout the entire process,” says Brandy. “I couldn’t have asked for better doctors and nurses.”

At Brandy’s one-year follow-up appointment, she underwent a repeat cardiac MRI to analyze her current heart function. Brandy’s left ventricle, as well as her right ventricle, were now found to be functioning normally.

“I was finally able to breathe again. I felt good,” says Brandy. “I would encourage patients to go to UPMC for surgery. The teams were just amazing.”

Brandy is scheduled to attend yearly appointments with Dr. Hoskoppal and the team at the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center to continually monitor her condition.

Brandy’s treatment and results may not be representative of similar cases.