Boy ‘in the clear’ after surgery

Published 9:32 am Friday, November 18, 2011

Got good news this week from Joey Walker, whose nearly 2-year-old son, Ethan, on Sept. 1 had his third major heart surgery for a rare congenital heart defect.

“Today it is safe to say that we are in the clear and all healed,” Joey said.

Also the son of Ashley Walker of Courtland, Ethan was born on Dec. 8, 2009, 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.

At 6 days old, he underwent his first surgery and came through better than expected. However, a setback came in March 2010, when doctors in Norfolk discovered a rare infection in Ethan’s heart.

He was admitted to the hospital out of concern that the infection could lead to a stroke or heart attack. Surgery was done to remove the infection. At the same time, the doctor also preformed the second of three surgeries Ethan would have to undergo to keep his condition under control.

• Patti Watkinson of Sedley updated me on her son, Shane, who over the summer played the lead in the comedy “Reasons to be Pretty” at the Black Box Theatre in Norfolk.

Shane has started a production company called Haven and his first play, “Scooter Thomas at the Top of the World” opened two weekends ago in Philadelphia. He is also starring in a web series called “The Pursuit.”

A 2010 graduate of Southampton High School, Shane also attended the Norfolk Governor’s School of the Arts for four years. He is a junior acting and musical theater major at University of Arts in Philadelphia.

Shane is also the son of Dennis Hancock of Sedley.

• Two Western Tidewater cotton farmers were recently featured in the Southwest Farm Press for using the Ignite herbicide on cotton, which contains the Widestrike gene for insect management. Southwest Farm Press covers production, management, research and legislative/regulatory issues affecting growers of cotton, wheat, grain sorghum, rice, peanuts, pecans, soybeans, corn and vegetable/citrus crops.

According to the article, the practice of using Ignite is becoming more popular in Virginia and North Carolina, despite warnings that it may damage the crop, leaving the grower no recourse.

Windsor farmer Paul Rogers said this is the fifth year he’s used Ignite on cotton with little damage.

Rogers said he fully understands the risk, but feels it’s justified as long as he keeps an eye on the weather. He noted that some local growers have gotten some fairly severe burn using it, but that’s mainly when it is applied in the heat of the day.

Cliff Fox of Capron said he got some burn on some of his cotton, but is careful on how it’s used and when it’s applied. Fox said he learned real quick when not to spray it — during the heat of the day. When he sprayed it in the evening, he didn’t see any burn.

GWEN ALBERS is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is