Follow Up Friday: Catching Up with Beau and His Heart

By Evan Koch

It’s been more than a year since Beau Wyble had open heart surgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Now 18 months old, the walker and burgeoning talker’s progress and appearance leave little signs of the heart defect he was born with or the innovative procedure that corrected it.

Beau’s energy level is on par with his 4-year-old big sister. He smiles a lot and keeps his doting parents, Jessica and Andrew Wyble busy and in good spirits.

But one thing is missing in his life.

Absent is a large scar bisecting the top half of Beau’s torso—something nearly every other child who has undergone open heart surgery in the United States lives with for the rest of their life.  

“If you didn’t know Beau’s story, you wouldn’t know he was a heart baby,” Jessica said.

That includes experts like the pediatrician who saw Beau recently.

“Beau’s regular pediatrician was out of the office and the pediatrician who saw Beau was unfamiliar with his story and said, ‘The note says he’s a heart baby. But I don’t see a scar,’” Jessica said. “He was blown away.”

Beau was three-and-a-half months old when he became the first child in Texas to undergo a right axillary thoracotomy to repair a congenital heart defect at Children’s Heart Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

The innovative open heart procedure
Beau underwent as an infant has left a
barely noticeable scar under his left
arm as opposed to the large zipper-like
scar on the chest produced by
traditional open heart surgery.

Instead of a large incision through the chest that requires weeks of recovery and a lifelong scar, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Ali Dodge-Khatami, M.D., PhD., made a small incision under Beau’s right arm to reach and repair the ventricular septal defect which disrupted the ability of the ventricles in Beau’s heart to efficiently pump blood to other parts of his body.

Dr. Dodge-Khatami, a Professor and Director of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth who is affiliated with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, pioneered the approach in the U.S.

Beau went home days after surgery and was back to normal activities at home soon after. He has since hit milestones expected of an infant and toddler. He began walking when he was 10-and-a-half months old.

“If anything, Beau’s ahead of where he should be,” Jessica said. “He’s working on using a spoon and fork to eat and he’s a chatter box. Anything me and his dad say to him, he repeats back to us.”

The only visible sign Beau has had any sort of surgery is the small scar under his right arm.

“You have to really look because the scar is so small,” Jessica said. “It’s healed wonderfully.”

Beau will continue to grow, make memories with his family and enjoy activities like his latest passion, drawing with chalk. But his parents want him to know what he overcame as an infant.

“We will make sure he knows his story and how lucky we all are to have had access to the amazing team and resources at Memorial Hermann,” Jessica said. “It’s pretty groundbreaking work and we’re one family that has been impacted by it.”

Children’s Heart Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital has earned a distinguished three-star rating from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in congenital heart surgery.

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