Walker Ballard sat on the floor, staring wide-eyed at "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on Disney Junior at his Smiths Grove home.
"If it's Mickey Mouse or 'Paw Patrol,' he's into it," said Tabatha Ballard, Walker's mother.
The 3-year-old toddler sometimes got up to play, pushing his feeding tube apparatus as he moved to get a small action figure to put on a small rocking horse. The toy lit up and made noise as Walker rocked it. Then a visitor stopped by and Walker went into full play mode, throwing another small toy back and forth with a cry of "Me got you!"
Ballard watched him with delight. It was a day she never thought she'd see.
Walker had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition in which the left side chambers of the heart develop too small to work effectively, and she worried for the first two years of his life that she would lose her youngest child. Now, with the help of a heart transplant, he has a new lease on life.
Walker was born with one big pumping chamber, causing blood not to go everywhere it was supposed to, according to Dr. Robert Gajarski, section chief of The Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where Walker had his surgeries in stages.
"He did OK with the first stage, then he started having issues. He went through the second stage. He went through the third stage and then his heart function was very poor," he said. "If your heart function is very bad, you don't get to the third stage." Continue reading