Spreading word on heart defects

Published 9:25 am Friday, January 20, 2012

Joey Walker of Courtland, whose son, Ethan, was born with a congenital heart defect, wants to make readers aware of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week from Feb. 7 to 14.

The disease is considered to be the most common birth defect and is a leading cause of birth defect-related deaths worldwide, according to the Congenital Heart Information Network.

Ethan, 2, on Sept. 1 had his third major heart surgery. 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 performed the second of three surgeries Ethan would have to undergo to keep his condition under control.

• Recent Boykins transplants Susan Patterson, and her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, were featured in The New York Times last week.

The story focused on how Skype and other video chat programs are being used for instructors to give music lessons. Students who used to limit the pool of potential teachers to those within a 20-mile radius of their homes now take lessons from teachers — some with world-class credentials — on other coasts or continents, according to the article.

Susan used to drive 45 minutes each way to take Taylor to her violin lessons while home-schooling her three children in Jane Lew, W.Va. She looked for lessons elsewhere and found five instructors willing to do it over Skype.

Susan is the wife of Terry Patterson, the new agricultural extension agent for Southampton County.

• Travis Felts from Sedley planned to participate in the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual Lockup on Thursday. He was asked to raise $1,600.

Travis is paralyzed from his shoulders down. He was injured in a pickup crash in December 1991. His neck was broken and his spinal cord was so badly mangled that doctors were not optimistic about his recovery.

Today, he works fulltime for his parents at Felts Machine Shop and is the father of three.

Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit MDA camp at the 4-H Airfield Center in Wakefield. Youth participate in swimming, horseback riding, canoeing and arts and crafts.

Anyone wishing to make a tax-deductible donation can write a check to Muscular Dystrophy Association and mail it to Travis at 672 Carolina Road, Suffolk, Va., 23434.

• Sharon Ewell Foster’s second novel, “The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part Two: The Testimony,” is due to hit bookshelves on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Researching and writing the book has been a five-year journey, according to a news release.

The slave rebellion took place in Southampton County in August 1831. Led by Turner, rebel slaves killed anywhere from 55–65 white people, the highest number of fatalities caused by slave uprisings in the South. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterward. He was tried and hanged.

Foster’s research included interviewing descendants of those killed, as well as Turner’s family, review of Gov. John Floyd’s original diary, analysis of trial transcripts and related documents.

She says she uncovered proof that discredits the primary historical document on Nat Turner, “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” a pamphlet written in 1831 by Thomas Gray, according to the news release. Gray purported to be Turner’s attorney. The original trial transcripts confirm that Gray was not Turner’s attorney. Nat Turner did not confess and Turner pleaded innocent.

GWEN ALBERS is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is gwen.albers@tidewaternews.com.