Patient Testimonial: Russell Smith, Congenital Heart Defect

Published on February 20, 2017

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common types of birth defects, affecting 1 out of every 100 babies born in the United States. While many used to be life-threatening conditions for children, medical advances have allowed many more children to live into adulthood. Currently, there are more adults living with CHD than there are children. With this progress, doctors have also learned that adults with CHD have different health care needs than adults with heart issues, or children or adolescents with CHD. They require specialized care.

Russell Smith is one of these adults with CHD living a full life as a father and successful real estate agent. Smith was born with a critical CHD called Tricuspid Atresia. Since birth, Smith has had three surgeries to address his CHD. He needed an initial procedure as a baby to secure blood flow to his lungs, known as a shunt procedure. At age 10, Smith had a more comprehensive procedure to completely reroute his heart circulation, known as a Fontan procedure. Most recently in 2014, he required a revision of his Fontan and placement of a pacemaker. All of these surgeries have been successful, but Smith is aware that they have not provided a cure. “I know I have to control my health care,” said Smith.

With this understanding, Smith has advocated for his own health care since leaving his home in Louisville to go to college. When Smith lived in Washington D.C., he built a great network of specialists who provided the care he needed. However, Smith’s return to Louisville made him a little nervous.

“My doctor in Washington only knew one colleague in Cincinnati that specialized in adult CHD. That would not be close enough for the care I needed for the long-term, especially if ‘blips’ or problems arose,” explained Smith.

Thus, Smith built a relationship with a network of doctors in Cincinnati, but continued to look for care in Louisville. The doctors in Cincinnati shared Smith’s concern, and they linked him with Dr. Walter Sobcyzk and UofL Physicians – Pediatric Cardiology.

“I could not be more pleased with the care Drs. Sobcyzk and Alexander have provided for me. They’re a wonderful resource for me and all adults living with CHD in Louisville and the surrounding areas,” said Smith. “When I have a concern with my medications or have any questions, I have a team very close to home that understands my condition and is part of a network of pediatric cardiologists and other specialists that can address my needs. This is not only a wonderful thing for me, but also for the hundreds of other adults in Kentucky that now have this specialized care available to them.”

To learn more about UofL Physicians - Adult Congenital Heart Disease, visit

To learn more about UofL Physicians - Pediatric Cardiology, visit

Learn more about Dr. Walter Sobcyzk by visiting his online profile at: 

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