Somewhere in Marshall, Texas, a 10-year-old boy named Anthony Herman is tapping out a rhythm on his shoes with sticks he picked up from the forested area surrounding his home. And somewhere inside of Anthony’s chest is a heart that is beating to a different, syncopated rhythm.
However, neither the beat on Anthony’s shoes or in his chest would be reverberating if it weren’t for the world-class, comprehensive heart care he has received at Children’s Medical Center, which – thanks in large part to generous donors – has the 14th ranked pediatric heart program in the country according to U.S. News & World Report.
Anthony was born with aortic valve stenosis, a condition that caused the valve connecting his heart’s left ventricle to his aorta to be dangerously narrow, restricting blood flow to his entire body. At only 9 days old, he underwent successful open-heart surgery in Atlanta.
Following the operation, Anthony’s health started a pattern – fitting for a boy who loves rhythm – that has carried on to this day. He got well and flourished, growing and developing at a pace equal to or ahead of his peers. And, then, he fell back into heart trouble at age 3 when his valves began to fail him again.
Coming to Children’s for the first time
Anthony’s family had moved to Marshall, Texas when his valves began to fail him again at age 3. Because of Marshall’s proximity to Dallas and the reputation of The Heart Center at Children’s, Anthony was referred to Children’s for his second surgery.
His parents were thrilled to learn that one of the surgeons who helped perform Anthony’s first operation in Atlanta, Joseph Forbess, M.D., had recently been named director of cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s and would be performing Anthony’s second operation, as well.
“Knowing that gave us a lot of comfort,” his mother, Kathleen Herman, says. “We knew from experience that Dr. Forbess was one of the best pediatric heart surgeons anywhere.”
The surgery went well. A few months passed without any major complications, and Anthony moved back into the healthy part of his rhythm. Anthony has grown into a fun-loving, bright-eyed boy. He learned to play soccer and to dance like Michael Jackson. He made friends at school and collected rocks as a hobby at home.