William, a polite 11-year-old boy who loves video games, Legos and math, wrote a poem about a cardiac surgeon at CHOA. Although it was a school assignment, it was entered in the 2018 Reflections National Competition, which had the theme of “Everyday Heroes.”
Here is his poem:
When I was only 9 months old
A hero was in my life, I’m told –
A doctor stood up and did his part
To save my tiny, broken heart.
When he was prepared and totally ready
His hands were oh so very steady.
He fixed my little beating heart
Just like he had said from the start.
I’m so thankful for this hero
Because without him, I would have died when I was zero.
He tried so hard to save my life.
And now one day I’ll have a wife.
And maybe a kid or two or three.
And with them I can climb a tree!
My future is wonderful, and SUPER bright.
Because of my hero, without fright.
Who was brave and bold and kind as can be
And one day, I’ll be a hero
For someone like me.
As he stated in his poem, William was diagnosed with a coarctation of the aorta and valvular stenosis at nine months old. His mother Summer noticed he was having similar symptoms like pneumonia and took him to a pediatrician six times in two weeks to find out what was wrong with him. “He was crying a lot, and I did everything I could to get an x-ray of his chest. I knew something was seriously wrong,” says Summer.
The doctors finally agreed to examine his chest and heart, and they discovered that William’s heart was enlarged. He was immediately sent to Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and admitted to the cardiac ICU at CHOA. He needed to get stronger before going through with surgery, but not long after being submitted in the ICU, William went into total heart failure and doctors needed to operate sooner than expected.
“In surgery, the doctors repaired his coarctation, and he was moved into the step down unit unit after two days in the ICU,” says Summer.
Three days after surgery, William started army crawling across the floor of the step down unit’s playroom for the first time ever. He could not move before because of improper circulation to the lower half of his body. It was truly a miracle.”
Since then, William hasn’t needed any other surgeries and sees his cardiologist only for an annual checkup. Some of the narrowing of his aorta has corrected itself, and he’s projected to not need another surgery on his heart until he’s in adulthood.
“We cannot say enough good things about what Sibley Heart Center Cardiology has done for our family. We actually stayed in Atlanta because of Sibley Heart Center Cardiology; their staff is very friendly and professional,” shares Summer. “When we arrived at Sibley Heart Center Cardiology the day we got William’s x-ray, they were extremely informative and impressed us from the beginning. The staff even provided William with a change of clothes and brought my husband David and I coffee and food to make sure we were taken care of before going into the ICU.”
William has a lot of respect for Sibley Heart Center Cardiology, as well. “They make me feel very comfortable when I go there,” he says. “And, I’ve been to their Camp Braveheart the last three years. I like to go swimming and see my heart friends. I’m excited to try the zip line this year!”
Along with Sibley Heart Center Cardiology’s help, William also has the support of his dad David, who is “William’s biggest fan for everything he does,” and 12-year-old older brother Tim who has autism. “He’s the best big brother,” says William.
“When Tim went to visit William in the hospital, he understood that he couldn’t touch him because of his heart condition,” says Summer. “Although he was not verbal at the time, he was still very loving. Today, they do brotherly things like playing video games, jumping on trampoline and riding bikes. They really care about each other.”
To other kids who have a heart condition, William has this to say:
“You will be fine. Sibley is a great place, and they have great doctors. Don’t be afraid.”
“Always have hope,” says Summer to other parents of a child with a heart condition. “Sibley Heart Center Cardiology is full of miracle workers. I was told William had less than a day to live, and looking at him today, I cannot thank them enough.”
For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology
specialists, click here.