A Texas teenager lived with an undetected heart defect for 14 years until doctors discovered he had been having a 'very slow heart attack' just about every day.
John Thoms, a high school freshman from San Angelo, had gone in for a standard physical with his pediatrician in August 2019.
His doctor heard a very strange sound and decided to run an electrocardiogram (EKG), which came back with abnormal results.
Thoms was sent to another hospital, where cardiologists revealed he had anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery, known as ALCAPA.
The condition is a birth defect in which the heart's arteries are not wired properly. It kills most babies before their first birthdays if left undetected and Thoms would need open heart surgery to correct it.
Doctors told John's mother that because that his body was having a hard time adjusting to the defect as he grew, it was like he was having a 'very slow heart attack every day'.
John Thoms, 14 (pictured), from San Angelo, Texas, went in for a routine physical exam on August 21
His pediatrician heard something strange when she listened to his heart. She ordered an EKG, which indicated that Thoms had suffered a heart attack. Pictured, left and right: Thoms hospitalized after the heart surgery
Thoms went to see his pediatrician, Dr Jennigale Webb, at Shannon Medical Center got the physical on August 21.
'She just listened with a stethoscope and said: "Something doesn't sound right",' Thoms's mother, Theresa Mueting, told DailyMail.com.
'And John said: "When I was born, they said I had a slight heart murmur" and she said: "No, this is different".'
Dr Webb ordered an EKG, which showed that Thoms had at one point suffered a heart attack.
He was referred to San Antonio Children's Methodist Hospital - 209 miles away - which had more resources to examine Thoms.
Dr David Bush, a pediatric cardiologist in San Antonio, ordered another EKG and an echocardiogram.
It was there that the 14-year-old learned he had ALCAPA, a rare heart defect in which the arteries of the heart are wired incorrectly.
Usually, the left and right coronary arteries branch from the aorta. But, in those with ALCAPA, the left coronary artery branches from from the pulmonary artery.
There are two main problems, the first being that not enough blood reaches the heart because some of the blood the left coronary artery sends to the heart flows back into the pulmonary artery.
The second is the blood the heart gets doesn't have as much oxygen as it should because the left coronary artery is sending deoxygenated blood.
The condition is typically diagnosed at birth, and most babies will die by the age of one if it is left undetected, according to Boston Children's Hospital.
'I think I was really stunned, I think I was really in shock,' Mueting said.
'All along the way, [doctors] kept saying this was something they had never seen before. Dr Bush said: "I have never heard of someone being this old with ALCAPA".'
Thoms was sent to another hospital, where he was diagnosed with anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery. ALCAPA is a rare heart defect in which the heart is deprived of blood and oxygen and kills most babies before their first birthday. Pictured, left and right: Thoms in the hospital during open heart surgery
Doctors determined that Thoms