Monday, September 19, 2011


Welcome! For those of you who haven't met me and don't know me personally, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ken Woodhouse. I am 30 years old, and I was born with a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot. In December 1981 (at the age of eight months), I had open heart surgery to repair this defect. While the surgery addressed the four problems associated with tetralogy of Fallot, a leaking heart valve was not replaced at that time. Had the doctors replaced that valve when I was an infant, they would have had to continually replace it every few years as I grew up. The decision was made to allow the small leak to remain (something I could live with) and to just monitor it closely through regular check ups.

I remember, as a kid, the annual visits to Children's Memorial Hospital, where my surgery was done when I was a baby. Every year, the feedback was generally the same: everything still looks good, but we suggest you lose some weight. I was a chubby kid, and the doctors were concerned that the extra weight could cause additional heart problems down the road. From the end of my freshman year in high school to the very beginning of my sophomore year, I had my adolescent growth spurt and lost about 40 pounds. (I guess I finally took care of that weight thing.) I have been slender ever since.

With no physical restrictions (aside from football) growing up, I often liked to be active. Although I never really gravitated toward organized sports, I always enjoyed being active, especially outdoors. I've loved bicycling for as long as I can remember; and over the past few years, I've done a number of distance rides, including the Ride for AIDS Chicago twice, AIDS/LifeCycle, and the Door County Century. Not bad for someone who -- had he been born just ten years earlier with the same heart defect -- may not have lived to adulthood!

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