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    Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento

    Tyler - From football to heart surgery and back again

    Tyler -
    Tyler - From football to heart surgery and back again

    When the nurse at urgent care told Terri that her son had a cardiac abnormality, she didn’t believe it. After all, Tyler was the picture of health – an active high school senior and quarterback of the football team.

    Earlier that day, Tyler told his parents that he was having heart palpitations at practice. To be on the safe side, Terri and her husband took Tyler to an urgent care center where they ran tests that revealed a heart problem. Terri then took Tyler to a different medical provider for a second opinion. There, they confirmed a heart abnormality and insisted Tyler go to the local hospital for treatment.

    Eventually, Tyler crossed paths with Robert Achtel, MD, pediatric cardiologist at Sutter North Medical Foundation, who was able to diagnose Tyler’s condition with a 64-slice CT scan. Tyler’s aortic stem significantly narrowed behind his heart. Dr. Achtel referred Tyler to the pediatric center at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento for surgery. He also informed Tyler that he had to take it easy – and not play football.

    “When Tyler’s coach and teammates learned about his condition, they were extremely supportive,” Terri said. “His coach felt badly about Tyler missing his last season of football – so much so that he said he’d even put Tyler in for a play or two if Dr. Achtel signed off on it. And he did. Tyler only got in a couple plays that season, but he got a touchdown!”  (To see Tyler’s touchdown and learn about his story, visit this video link.)

    “At first, we were all focused on when he could get back to football,” explained Terri. “I wasn’t expecting a worst-case scenario, especially because Tyler has excelled in athletics for most of his life. But when Dr. Nasirov explained Tyler’s surgical options, I realized how serious this was.”

    Pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, Teimour Nasirov, MD, with Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento, spent a few weeks running additional tests on Tyler to determine the best course of action. He explained to Terri that Tyler had two options: a stent to prop open his valve or cardiac surgery to remove the narrowed section.

    “We opted for the surgery since that was a permanent solution,” Terri said. “Tyler’s otherwise optimal health made him a good candidate. And we felt really lucky to have Dr. Nasirov as our doctor: on top of being a gifted surgeon, he is an amazing person.  He spent so much time discussing Tyler with us, I was very appreciative. My parents met him later on, and Dr. Nasirov took the time to explain everything to them, too. I felt he really cared about Tyler and our family.”

    Dr. Nasirov performed cardiac surgery on Tyler in October 2009. The procedure was a success, with no complications. Tyler was discharged after five days and began rehab. “Within eight weeks he was competing on the wrestling team,” Terri beams. “And now he’s playing tennis. I’m so proud of him.”

    Today, Tyler is finishing up his senior year at Wheatland High School. He plans to play football at Sierra College next year. “Tyler initially planned on giving up football after high school. But after his surgery – and having to miss the season – he’s realized how much he loves the sport,” Terri says. “Tyler has always been a great kid, but he handled his diagnosis and surgery with such grace and an inspiring attitude. I’m very happy he’s come through this even more determined to succeed in life. And I’m so grateful to everyone at Sutter for making sure he has that chance.”


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