Texas Children's Hospital saving youngest of lives

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Boy reunites with doctor who saved his life 10 years ago
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He was born with a rare heart defect, but a doctor performed a life-saving surgery. They got to meet 10 years later, and our camera was there.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- If can be a frightening situation when a parent hears their newborn needs immediate open heart surgery. That's what happened to one Houston couple, when their son was born with a rare heart defect. But surgery was a success. The family got the opportunity to reunite with the doctor 10 years later, and our cameras were there.

Meet Will, an active 10-year-old boy that loves playing sports. Baseball and basketball are his favorites. But looking at him today, you would never know his life got off to a rocky start.

Chief of congenital heart surgery at Texas Children's, Dr. Charles Fraser said, "He was born with a condition where the veins coming back from the lungs which we call the pulmonary veins weren't connected to the heart."

Will was diagnosed with TAPVR, also known as Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return. Open heart surgery was needed -- scary words for any new parent to hear.

"How can this be? I can't imagine, we've only known his 12 hours. He's got to get through this," Will's mother, Carrie Gillette, explained.

"The situation that he had is actually not a hard decision. No surgery, no survival," Dr. Fraser told us.

So Will was scheduled to have the procedure when he was only 8-days-old.

Carrie said, "In your head we knew we were in good hands. But you're very nervous going up to those days."

Putting nerves aside, Carrie and her husband say they were comforted by the medical team at Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Fraser said, "It's also an enormously gratifying operation because the children come into the operation with very drained circulation, abnormal oxygen levels, very sick. And they usually get better really quickly."

Ten years later, Will's parents say he's grown into a competitive young boy.

"He could run and keep up with anyone. His surgery has not stopped him in doing anything he has wanted to do," Carrie said.

And just last month, Will participated in his second kid's triathlon, and loved it.

"Usually my favorite part is the running or biking," Will told us.

You could say he's on the top of his game these days, and that's why Will and his parents wanted to meet Dr. Fraser, just to say thanks. As far as Will's future, he says the sky's the limit.

"If I could, I'd want to play NBA. But if not, sports medicine would be cool," Will said.