Health Care with Heart

It was a routine follow up visit to the doctor and Alyson did not expect to hear anything out of the ordinary from Dr. Sue Ann Park, her son’s pediatrician at VCC. Her newborn Grayson was alert and looked well. But it was his rapid breathing that tipped off Dr. Park that things were not quite alright. Her urgent advice to the new mom: Have your son checked out in a hospital immediately.

Grayson was diagnosed with Truncus Arteriosus Type 2, a rare congenital heart defect that causes the pulmonary artery and aorta to become fused, creating only one outflow tract for blood out of the heart.

“Dr. Park was very observant,” says Alyson, a pediatric nurse practitioner at VCC. “By picking up the signs so early, she saved my son’s life.”

Three days later, surgeons operated on Grayson to repair the condition by creating a new pulmonary artery with an artificial tube or conduit, and using the original, single blood vessel to create a new aorta. Grayson will need more surgeries as he grows up. Today he is playful and energetic toddler.

As a parent, Alyson is grateful for the timely diagnosis. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, the experience has made her more empathetic to the needs of other parents.

“This has made me more cognizant and sensitive to the individual needs of each parent,” Alyson says. “It reminds me each day to always ask how I can help them navigate the system, what needs they have as parents and as a family as a whole as it relates to their child’s issues or concerns.”