Broadway Actor Finds Support through the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center at Mount Sinai
Alex Weisman made his Broadway debut in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2018. Unfortunately, Alex made headlines in 2020 when he was attacked in the subway, nearly costing him his eyesight. Physicians at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai were able to repair his retinal detachment with minimally invasive surgery, and Alex was auditioning within two weeks.
But this wasn’t Alex’s first experience with Mount Sinai. Alex was born with a heart condition called truncus arteriosus, which required surgery in Chicago, shortly after he was born.
When the baby is in the womb, the heart starts with a single blood vessel coming from the heart. As the heart develops, this vessel divides into two major arteries: the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs for replenishment; and the aorta, which carries oxygen-rich blood to the body. However, babies with truncus arteriosus have only one such blood vessel, leading them to be oxygen-deprived and surgery is necessary to correct it.
Over the years, Alex has had three open-heart surgeries and one trans-catheter valve replacement. Patients such as Alex need to continue to see an adult congenital heart disease specialist on an ongoing basis to avoid long-term complications. When Alex moved to New York City, he knew he needed dedicated Adult Congenital Heart Disease care
Alex has been under the care of Ali N. Zaidi, MD at Mount Sinai, where Dr. Zaidi heads the Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Center. Dr. Zaidi leads a team of physicians and surgeons with dedicated expertise in ACHD to provide optimal care to this growing cohort of young patients with congenital heart disease. Dr. Zaidi’s focus has been on educating and treating patients with congenital heart disease and their families with an emphasis on timely transition to appropriate adult congenital care. This is critical, considering that approximately 2 million adults are now living with congenital heart disease in the United States but the majority of them do not get the care they need, which can lead to serious, long-term health complications and death. “We are here to help at every step of the way so our patients can reach all their goals in life. But we also need patients and their families to be advocates for themselves just like Alex has done and not fall out of care,” says Dr. Zaidi.
Alex said that Dr. Zaidi and his team have become an integral support system in his life. “I have never received such individualized, attentive, holistic, and attentive care from a doctor’s office—and didn’t know such treatment was possible,” he said.
“When you have adult congenital heart disease, you grow up knowing you are different,” Alex said. “It affects every part of your life, from birth through minor day-to-day decisions. But with my team at Mount Sinai, it feels like I have a superpower. I feel like I am part of a special club, and only because of my heart disease do I have access to an incredible system of people who are there for this journey with me.”
And with so many adults not getting the care they need, Alex is passionate about spreading the word. “I have already recruited a friend of mine to Dr. Zaidi’s care,” Alex said. “Anyone who goes elsewhere will never receive the best care possible because Dr. Zaidi is unequivocally the best.”