Pediatric heart disease is an issue close to the hearts of Turlock parents Jimmy and Monica Woods. When their son Tanner was born on Dec. 13, 2010, he suffered from an extremely rare condition called right isomerism. The syndrome saw Tanner born with his heart on the wrong side of the body, arteries attached backwards, half of his heart larger than the other, and no spleen – among other issues.
Days after birth, Tanner underwent his first open-heart surgery, and has since had two other major surgeries on his heart and intestines.
Today, almost three months shy of his second birthday, you would never know that Tanner has heart disease.
“He’s actually doing pretty well,” said Monica Woods. “He hasn’t seen the cardiologist in six months. He’s not showing any signs of heart failure; he’s a growing boy.”
While the Woods’ rejoice in Tanner’s good health, they are acutely aware that sometime in the future he will need a heart transplant.
“It could be in the next month, or in 20 years,” Monica said.
As many as five million Americans suffer some form of heart failure, but only about 2,000 hearts a year become available for transplant; which is why the Woods are hoping that technology will catch up with Tanner’s condition.
“We want Tanner to have a mechanical heart when the time comes,” Monica said.
Researchers are still working on making mechanical hearts that will stand up to the rigors of the human body. The Woods are hoping to help that research along by raising funds for the American Heart Association through the Stanislaus Heart Walk, being held today at Modesto Junior College’s East Campus.
This will be the Woods’ second year participating in the walk as Team Tanner. They have raised close to $3,000 so far, all of which will go towards pediatric heart disease research.
“What we didn’t know last year was that most funds donated to the American Heart Association go to adult research,” Monica said. “A very small amount goes to pediatric research.”
All funds donated to Team Tanner will be designated for pediatric research.
To donate to Team Tanner go to www.stanislausheartwalk.org, and click the “Find a Team” link under “Information.”
The Heart Walk will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. today at the MJC stadium.