Heart of a Champion
Brady Luke has a special place in his heart for the colorful building at the corner of 84th and Dodge.
“He loves coming here,” says Brady’s mom, Lisa. “We’ll pass it, and he’ll say, ‘There’s my hospital! There’s Children’s!’ He knows everybody here.”
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is a place the adorable four-year-old knows all too well. Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), Brady has “half a heart,” his dad, Brian, explains. “That means that half has to do the work of the whole.”
“Even 20 years ago, most of these HLHS kids didn’t make it,” says Lisa.
But today Children’s pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons are able to rework the heart’s plumbing with a series of three surgeries that redirect blood flow to take the strain off of the overcompensating right side. At just seven days old in 2008, they performed the first surgery on Brady’s tiny heart. And on June 5, 2012, surgeon James Hammel, M.D., and the Children’s team performed the third and most complex surgery. The size of Brady’s heart isn’t the only thing that has grown since that first surgery—so has his parents’ trust and confidence in Children’s expert care.
“I completely trust Dr. Hammel and his team,” says Lisa. “Am I scared when he goes into surgery? Oh, yeah. But I trust them.”
“We don’t see coming here as going to the doctor,” Brian chimes in. “It’s more like coming to see a second family. The people at Children’s treat us as family, rather than patients.”
Spend some time with Brady today, and you’d never know he has a heart defect. With a sweet smile and a twinkle in his eyes, he’ll tell you how he loves playing with blocks, hide and seek and coloring—just like any four-year-old. But don’t be fooled—this preschooler has the heart of a champion and the scar to prove it.
“We see the scar on his chest as a badge of honor. Without Children’s and without that scar, he wouldn’t be here,” says Lisa, beaming with pride.
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