Cleveland Clinic’s Oldest Tetralogy of Fallot Patient Beating the Odds

Not many people can say they’ve been going to a cardiologist since they were 2 years old. Thanks to the cardiac team at Cleveland Clinic, Allen Barber continues to surpass expectations.

After having surgery in 1952 for Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare congenital heart defect encompassing four related heart defects, Allen has formed a special relationship with Cleveland Clinic.

“Every time I go to Cleveland Clinic, I’m a challenge for whoever works on me. These are the only people I trust,” says Mr. Barber, who travels frequently to Cleveland Clinic from his home in Colorado for heart check-ups.

Mr. Barber credits his physicians with his longevity and his ultimate goal — to become the longest living Tetrology of Fallot patient.

David Majdalany, MD, his cardiologist and Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center, credits the team of professionals at Cleveland Clinic with his successful outcome.

“The strength of Cleveland Clinic’s excellent multidisciplinary team,” says Dr. Majdalany, "— including collaboration between cardiology, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, and cardiothoracic surgery experts — has certainly provided Allen with an extended period of life.”

Mr. Barber has had his share of heart procedures, but he has been able to avoid a heart transplant due to the expert collaboration of Cleveland Clinic physicians over the course of his life. Due to the excellent care, Mr. Barber maintains a rigorous schedule traveling frequently to China working on projects that benefit both the U.S. and China and will continue this with the medical care provided by the Clinic.

“I think it is so important that a patient and a physician have a relationship of trust and understanding. I know they’re dedicated to what they do and I want to thank them.”

With a team of cardiac experts in his corner, Mr. Barber is striving to be the longest living patient with his condition and is making the most of it. “I want to know when I hit the point of the longest living cardiac patient, no one is going to catch this record,” he says.

Mr. Barber does his part, too. He goes to the gym every other day, combining cardio and strength training. He also monitors his diet. A sense of humor and the occasional bite of chocolate help him get through. His biggest dilemma is feeling like he’s 40 years old when in reality he’s 65.

Mr. Barber is grateful for the care he’s received at Cleveland Clinic and does his best to stay in touch with his physicians. “I think it is so important that a patient and a physician have a relationship of trust and understanding,” says Mr. Barber. “I know they’re dedicated to what they do and I want to thank them.”

Related Institutes: Heart & Vascular Institute (Miller Family)
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