Thomas Ceja is a fun-loving 12-year-old who is full of life, and talking with him only reaffirms the positive attitude of a boy who is thriving just one year after his heart surgery at Cardinal Glennon.
Thomas was Cardinal Glennon's 2006 Honorary Heart Walk Champion for the St. Louis Metro Heart Walk in Forest Part.
After years of migraines, Thomas came to Glennon for an echocardiogram. It was then discovered that the main artery around his heart was narrowing. The blockage, coarctation of the aorta, causes blood pressure to rise in the arms and head, and fall in the legs, seriously straining the heart.
"After two months in the hospital, Thomas made remarkable progress," said Dr. Saadeh Jureidini, pediatric cardiologist. "He has a perfect aorta now, just like any other child."
'I Have a Whole New Life Now'
During his stay, Thomas kept high spirits and entertained his caretakers.
"He's like a little mayor, talking and laughing with everyone," said his father, also named Thomas. "The doctors and nurses took really great care of Thomas, which is the reason we continue to come here."
Thomas' heart surgery was followed in 2006 by surgery on his kidney.
"Before my heart surgery I was pretty scared," he said. "Now I'm just happy not to have headaches anymore. I have a whole new life now."