Well Child health exam leads to life-saving heart surgery for 8-year-old boy

Updated: Jan. 20, 2020 at 4:08 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A little boy with a big heart has an eye on the future thanks to one organization providing in-school exams. Shaheem Young Jr. will tell you he has big plans for his future.

“I want to grow up to be a police officer,” 8-year-old Shaheem said.

His love of physical activity, like playing basketball, will help him to eventually reach that goal. But right now, some scary news has sidelined him.

“[He had] surgery on his left aortic valve,” Shaheem’s mom, Shantell Young, said.

Shaheem had heart surgery in November. His condition may not have been caught if it wasn’t for an optional physical exam his mom signed him up for at school.

“I'm glad Well Child caught the [heart] murmur because he had literally just had a physical in September and nothing was found,” Young said.

Shantell signed Shaheem up for an in-school exam with the organization Well Child which provides similar exams in schools across the state. The workers with Well Child heard a heart murmur in Shaheem and suggested Shantell get him to a specialist who found the more serious issue in his aortic artery.

“We have found numerous serious conditions where students are sitting in the classroom asymptomatic,” Well Child Chief of Staff Yolanda Davis said. “No one knows they’re sick. No one knows they can’t see.”

Shantell said when Shaheem went in for surgery she was more grateful than worried knowing something deadly was caught early. But on Martin Luther King Jr. Day she couldn’t help but tear up when she thanked the staff at Well Child.

“He was actually going to basketball practice and exercising, and it was a risk he could've fallen dead from playing,” Young said.

Young said Shaheem’s doctor explained the condition in Shaheem’s aortic valve can affect how oxygen moves to his heart. She was told it’s a condition that can be deadly, especially in athletes and those exerting themselves.

Shaheem cannot exercise for the next six months, but he hopes to one day to get back on the basketball court.

To learn more about Well Child click [HERE].

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