Blue baby now a “man in blue”Tim Morrison

When Tim Morrison was born, doctors doubted he would live more than a week. But 32 years later, he’s alive and doing things no one imagined.

In 1975, Tim was born with a number of serious heart problems. “If it’s a defect, I had it,” he says. “I had my first surgery when I was six days old. It was more of an experiment than anything.” Tim was born with the two largest heart vessels switched, sending oxygen-poor blood around his body and resulting in what is known as “blue baby” syndrome. This defect used to be inoperable before a Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher developed a groundbreaking procedure that allows surgeons repair this problem. He also had two septal defects (holes in his heart) and an open blood vessel failed to close after birth, causing a condition called Patent ductus arteriosus.

He’s had at least 16 heart surgeries, including a serious procedure in 1995 that replaced a lot of artificial parts that hadn’t grown to fit his now adult heart. “The surgery lasted about 16 hours. It was really dangerous and they gave me a 20% chance of survival,” Tim says. “I guess I’ve been a little bit lucky.”

Staying active with family, work and play
Because of his heart condition, Tim can’t follow in his father’s footsteps as a police officer, but Tim is close on his heels. He works as a civilian front desk employee at a Durham Police station and stays active by competing in the World Curling Tour. He says it’s just a part of his daily regimen of being physically active and eating right – two things he says are vitally important to adults with congenital heart defects.

Now married with a daughter, Ashlyn, Tim says he feels blessed by his supportive family every day. “Very few persons that have the complications that I had at birth live as long as I have been able to,” he says. “I have been lucky to be a benefactor of the groundbreaking research done by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.”

Lessons for Life
Although his heart condition may have slowed him down as a kid and presented him with obstacles, it never stopped him: “The hardest thing being a child with congenital heart disease is when you come to the realization that you can’t keep up with other kids – that you can’t run as fast as far or go as long, but you learn to control it and live a normal life.” His parents never treated him like he was special or had a disability and that helped him to be proud of who he is today.

Full of optimism, Tim hopes that others with congenital defects will see that they, too, can live normal, if not extraordinary lives. “Just never give up on the fact that if you want to do something, you can accomplish it, but remember that you still have to take care of yourself.”

Last reviewed June 2007.