Because of the outstanding quality of care provided at Texas Children’s, there are endless stories about how our faculty, staff and employees have changed people’s lives. These stories remind us and others how big of an impact we can make and how humbling our jobs often can be. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are two stories about Texas Children’s patients whose lives were changed by our Heart Center and Transplant Services teams.
Grandmother, mom, daughter share bond through congenital heart disease diagnoses
To say Sherry Brown, her daughter, Tracy Moore, and granddaughter, Kennedie, have a special relationship would be an understatement. Other than the quintessential bond which has grown throughout the lineage’s time together, they also share congenital heart disease diagnoses.
When Tracy was born, doctors discovered she suffered from an atrial septal defect (ASD), a “hole” in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart. The Palestine, Texas native and her family traveled to Houston for expert pediatric heart care at Texas Children’s Hospital. Tracy was monitored growing up and underwent surgery to repair the congenital heart defect when she was 17-years-old.
The family’s experience with congenital heart disease deepened when Tracy’s daughter, Kennedie, was diagnosed with an ASD and valve issue when she was 4-months-old. As soon as Tracy left Kennedie’s local doctor’s office, she knew there was only one heart center team equipped to care for her daughter. It was the same expert team her mom had entrusted to take care of her when she was a little girl – the cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists at Texas Children’s.
“It’s the only place to be treated,” Tracy said. “When you’re at Texas Children’s, you not only feel grateful for the care you’re receiving, but you also feel grateful for what you have when you see what other families are going through.”
Kennedie, now 10-years-old, has undergone three surgeries with cardiovascular surgeons Dr. Dean McKenzie and Dr. Jeffrey Heinle, and is closely monitored by a pediatric cardiologist as she matures. During each of Kennedie’s surgeries, Sherry supported Tracy in a way no one else could. Ironically, Sherry was also diagnosed with congenital heart disease, but not until she was 53-years-old. In 2003, she too underwent surgery with Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., surgeon-in-chief and chief of congenital heart surgery at Texas Children’s, and had a second valve repair just last year.
Though grown adults, Sherry and Tracy continue to be cared for by doctors at Texas Children’s. Dr. Wayne Franklin, director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Texas Children’s, and his team see more than 1,800 adults like Sherry and Tracy in clinic each year. The expert team is trained in both pediatric and adult heart disease, ensuring the continuum of care from childhood through adulthood is maintained. Franklin advises patients on health and lifestyle choices for their adult needs, including physical challenges, exercise options and family planning.
Sherry cherishes the relationship she has with her daughter and granddaughter. “God has blessed me,” Sherry said. “To be able to go through something like this with my daughter as she’s having her child who also has heart disease creates one big, special bond.”
Mother donates kidney to son, gives him second chance at life
When Mary Churchman was pregnant with her son, Kyle, he was diagnosed with a posterior urethral valve. Due to the condition, he had extra flaps of tissue that grew in his urethra, causing a blockage of the normal flow of urine and damage to one of his kidneys. Doctors in New Orleans told the Churchmans Kyle wasn’t going to live an hour and if he did, he would likely need a kidney transplant by age two or three. He defied those odds.
The family moved from New Orleans to Lake Charles, La. shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit. Following the devastating storm, Kyle’s doctors scattered leaving the family in search of an expert team to care for their young son. The Churchmans discovered Texas Children’s Hospital, and Kyle has been followed by the hospital’s kidney transplant team ever since. Recently, it was determined the now 13-year-old was finally in need of a transplant.
Kyle’s dad was tested first and was a match, but due to his anatomy, wasn’t an ideal candidate for transplant. Once Mary went through the screening process and it was determined she was a match, surgery was scheduled. The Churchmans were both excited and nervous. On Feb. 4, 2016, Dr. Christine O’Mahony, surgical director of kidney transplantation at Texas Children’s, harvested Mary’s kidney and transplanted it into Kyle. Following a two-month stay in Houston for their recovery, Kyle and Mary joined the rest of the family back home in Lake Charles.
Kyle is now thriving and didn’t even realize how bad he felt prior to transplant. The family is so thankful to the team at Texas Children’s for helping Mary give her son the gift of life.
“To be able to give him this gift is amazing and a true honor, especially as his mom,” Mary said. “When I delivered him, we didn’t even know if he was going to make it and now he has another chance at life. It’s a blessing.”