After setback, Ethan still beating odds

Published 7:46 am Friday, June 11, 2010

FRANKLIN—Born with a rare congenital heart defect, Ethan Walker has been through a lot in his 6 months of life.

Ethan was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a defect characterized by the partial or complete failure of the left side of the heart to develop—essentially leaving him with half of a heart.

The Windsor Seventh-Day Adventist Church is hosting a wheel show 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 13, to benefit Ethan. The church is at 26363 Walters Highway in Windsor.

Ethan’s family is grateful for the community’s support.

“It feels like a blessing,” said Ethan’s mother, Joey Walker. “God has just helped out so much.”

At 6 days old, Ethan underwent the first of three surgeries and came through better than expected. However, a setback came in March, when doctors in Norfolk discovered an infection in Ethan’s heart.

“The infection he had was the rarest. They don’t know where it came from,” Walker said.

Doctors immediately admitted Ethan, concerned that the infection could lead to a stroke or cardiac arrest.

“It was serious,” Walker said.

Ethan was born at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina because of the hospital’s expertise in dealing with pediatric cardiology. Walker said she and her husband, Ashley, wanted to go back to Duke, but doctors didn’t want to risk the trip.

Walker said the doctor that performed the surgery in Norfolk, ironically, didn’t feel comfortable doing Ethan’s first surgery, but Walker said he did a great job removing the infection from Ethan’s heart.

“He talked to us, comforted us and reassured us,” she said of the doctor.

Ethan came through the surgery great, Walker said.

“He recovered he looked wonderful when he came out of surgery,” she said. About five weeks after the surgery, Ethan was transferred to Duke because the Walkers felt he would get better care.

Surgeons at Duke, Walker said, were shocked when they couldn’t find any signs of damage to Ethan’s heart from the infection.

“That is amazing,” she said. “It just gives us something else to tell the other families.”

When the doctor removed the infection, he also preformed the second of three surgeries Ethan will have to undergo to keep his condition under control. The third surgery will be done when he is 2 or 3 years old.