Helping Henry: Big Bend Gets More Pediatric Care

Henry Dyer
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 04:51:05-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Big Bend is looking to add more pediatric specialists, thanks to a partnership between Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare and Wolfson Children's Hospital of Jacksonville.

Henry Dyer is the typical toddler -- a ball of energy, never in one spot for very long.

But he wasn't always that active -- and his heart wasn't always that healthy.

"When they first heard the murmur, they thought it was probably just something wrong with one of his arteries," his mother Bobbie Dyer said. "It wasn't until they sent us to Tallahassee Memorial and did the 'echo' that they found two holes."

Henry was born with a rare congenital heart defect called an atrial septal defect (ASD), which only affects 1 in every 1,500 children. After his family took him to local doctors, it became clear Henry would need surgery.

"He was having some growth problems," said pediatric cardiologist Dr. Mac Vining. "His mother was having a lot of trouble with him gaining weight, and his activity level was definitely not normal."

Vining works at Wolfson Children's Specialty Center at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. After a successful surgery in Jacksonville in November 2016, Henry has been following up with Vining at his Tallahassee office.

"The hole is completely closed," Vining said, "and now, his heart function is completely normal. His echocardiograms have been perfect since then, and we've stopped his medications."

"He's eating, putting on weight. It's great." Bobbie Dyer said. "We call him 'Junk Food Baby.' He loves popcorn and potato chips."

The Dyers live in Crawfordville, so trips back and forth to Jacksonville for care take a toll on them. Having help closer to home is hoping to make a big difference for pediatric patients in the Big Bend.

"If it's the middle of the night, and their mom needs something, they can call us right here," Vining said. "They don't have to worry about traveling hours and hours away or talking to a physician who may not be familiar with their child."

Vining said Henry is doing so well that he only needs to visit once every six months. Bobbie Dyer said she's hopeful this is the start of even more pediatric specialists coming to the area.