The Melody: A Heart Story


By Dyson Von Robinson

The unpredictable vicissitudes of congenital heart disease have assured adversity as one of few guarantees in David Scott’s life. Born with aortic stenosis, the first few years of David’s life were rather uneventful health wise. However, the doctors advised his parents early on to encourage him to develop an interest in non-sports-related activities, which laid the foundation for David’s pursuit of self-expression through music. 

At the age of five, David was scheduled for his first invasive procedure, a cardiac catheterization, to perform a balloon valvuloplasty. Unfortunately, the procedure was unsuccessful, thus requiring an emergency open-heart surgery the following day. Afterwards, David developed a mild case of post-pericardiotomy syndrome, which was gradually resolved with an anti-inflammatory. 

David remained symptom-free for close to three years following the procedure until soon after his eighth birthday when he developed aortic 
insufficiency and needed open-heart surgery again. David suffered from a cardiac arrest just minutes after the procedure began. Surgeons successfully implanted a Saint Jude’s mechanical valve, but once again, he developed post-pericardiotomy syndrome. 

By the end of his junior year in high school, David’s condition began to deteriorate yet again. David had outgrown the mechanical valve and was scheduled for a Ross Procedure. Post-operatively, he experienced severe bleeding and had to be rushed back into surgery immediately. The source of the bleeding was never discovered. Less than two weeks after the operation, David developed post-pericardiotomy syndrome and was readmitted for severe gastrointestinal bleeding landing him back in the intensive care unit for weeks. 

Emergency surgery was scheduled the following day. The abscess turned out to be sterile fluid that had accumulated, cause unknown. He was released a week later having lost over 25 pounds during the procedure. Months later, David developed the same compressive symptoms in his pulmonary artery. The doctors could only conclude that either his body was rejecting the human cadaver valve or he was having successively worse inflammatory reactions to surgery and cardiopulmonary bypass. For nine months, David was placed on an aggressive steroid therapy in hopes of reversing his body’s immune response. His symptoms finally subsided and soon after, David started classes at Villanova University. 

After so many close encounters with death, the fragility and impermanence of life was a lesson that needed little reiteration. In 2017, Dr. Brenda Armstrong informed David and his wife, Lauren, that he would need a fifth major heart operation due to problems with his pulmonary valve. David was deeply afraid that he may not survive another surgery. 

With the rapid advancement in medical device technology in the last two decades since his last surgery, David urged his doctors to consider other treatment options. The medical/surgical team reviewed his case again and concluded that the “Melody Valve” was worth a try. As a professional 
musician, it seemed like destiny. 

For David, the “Melody Valve” was a miracle. A surgery that only took one stitch completely changed his life. After emerging from the procedure, David was deeply inspired to create a musical project about the 

Although his album took only two years to complete, it represents 37 years of David’s life as a patient, musician, advocate, and survivor.