Go Jim Go: Carrington Carter Patient Stories

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(Batesville, MS) In Batesville, 10-year-old Carrington Carter shows has skills when it comes to playing basketball.

"I like to play basketball and I like to run and play with my friends and I love to play with my dog, Carrington Carter said.     

Carrington also loves working on school projects like this one and talking about the importance of having a healthy heart.

 "If you don't have a heart you won't live. It's not just about the heart, it's the brain and everything in your body and if you don't have blood, you'll just be flopping around," Carrington Carter said.       

About eight years ago it was Carrington's own heart that gave her parents, Lydale and Tonya, and her brother, Michaelon, the scare of their lives.

"The night of April 11 of 2002, she had rolled out of bed and I didn't think anything about it. You know, kids move around," Tonya Carter said.

But a few hours later at breakfast, Carrington walked in and was having trouble breathing.

"The wife alerted me that Carrington, her eyes were dilated and back in her head for some reason," Lydale Carter said.

"I was holding her and she started shaking and her eyes dilated and it's like she had turned blue," Tonya Carter.

"I felt sad that she was sick and I'm glad to have her. I love her," Michaelon Carter said.   

Carrington was rushed to a nearby hospital in Batesville where doctors called Le Bonheur and learned that Carrington possibly had a heart condition. She was later air transported to Memphis by Pedi-flight.

"When I had to drive from Batesville to Le Bonheur hospital things were going in my mind like is my child going to really make it?," Lydale Carter said.   

The doctors at Le Bonheur discovered that Carrington had a hole in her heart.

"We were hysterical and confused. We didn't know what to think or what was going on," Tonya said.    

Doctors said Carrington needed to be treated for pulmonary atresia, a rare congenital heart defect.       

Dr. Rush Waller is a pediatric cardiologist at Le Bonheur, "This was a life or death situation. It wasn't an emergency though in the way you think about other heart problems. If she had not been treated with the surgeries we had been doing and the catheterization we started doing, she would have started having more symptoms in late childhood."

A few days later Carrington was released following a heart catheterization. She returned to Le Bonhuer a month later for a pulmonary valve implant.         

The surgery lasted for hours, but finally the Carters got the news they'd been praying to hear.

"Dr. Gilbert came out and said everything was well and it was successful. We were overwhelmed. It was excited to hear that," Tonya Carrington said..

"Thank God for Le Bonheur. The doctors that performed on my daughter did a great job and I'll never in my life, I will never forget the support that we got when we got there," Lydale Carrington said.

"It's one of the reasons I'm in pediatrics is that you can take a child or a baby with a really complex problem and with our surgical team and things that we can do, my goal is get those children to be productive citizens as adults," Waller said.

Since then, Carrington has received several additional heart procedures, but she's doing great enjoying reading and being featured on the cover of magazines.

"I love it because I'm popular and other people can know me, love me and what happened and wish I'd be well," Carrington Carter said.

Now that Carrington is well, she's got a message for other kids and a special Le Bonheur shaped heart she wants to share with others.

"You don't have to worry, if you have to go there because they give you everything," Carrington Carter said.

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