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A Battle for the Heart

William's story

February 2012

With a cough and some difficulty nursing, five-week-old William Garcia just seemed to have a minor cold.

"When I took him to the doctor, I thought he had a cold or virus," his mother, Cindy, recalled. "The doctor didn't hear anything concerning in his lungs or heart, but decided to have a chest x-ray done as a precaution."

That choice would prove to save William's life.

The x-ray revealed an enlarged heart—and the beginning of heart failure. Arrangements were quickly made to transport William from their Fort Wayne home to Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent.

"When we got there, we were told an ECHO had revealed more heart defects, which meant William was going to need a series of heart surgeries," Cindy said. "The first one was right away that morning."

Despite the whirlwind of activity, Cindy and her husband felt William was exactly where he needed to be.

"We'd never heard of the hospital before, but our doctors said St.Vincent was very specialized in heart issues and the best place for him," she said.

The first surgery

Simon Abraham, M.D., a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, corrected an aortic coarctation, a narrowing of the aorta that limits the amount of oxygen-rich blood delivered throughout the body. With this first surgery, Dr. Abraham hoped to give William time to grow before more complicated surgeries were needed.

The second surgery

Four months later, when William was unable to put on more weight, Dr. Abraham moved forward with repair of Taussing-Bing anomaly; a complex defect with a hole inside the heart and abnormal positioning of the blood vessels that arise from the heart.

"It's amazing that William's body compensated as well as it did for as long as it did," his mom said.

The third and fourth surgeries

As expected, William had two more surgeries on his heart—at 14 months and seven years old. Much to the Garcias' relief, Dr. Abraham performed all four surgeries. "He's been with us through it all. He knows William's heart problems better than anyone else," Cindy said. They also found comfort from other St.Vincent staff. "The nurses not only cared for William, but for us as well," Cindy said. "They made sure we took care of ourselves, and had what we needed."


Now a first-grader who loves to play superheroes with his younger brother, William shows no sign of his rocky start. That is, unless he's asked to show off his surgical scars – which he does with pride.

To learn more about William's journey, visit PeytonsHeroes.com/William.

Tags: In This Issue, Local, Pediatric Health

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