Mother and toddler share bond over surgery to repair 'hole in the heart'

By: Wolfson Children's Hospital
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Aug. 20, 2020 - PRLog -- Rashad "Deuce" Gholston Jr. is all boy. The active 2-year-old, born in Tallahassee but who now lives in Daytona Beach, is always on the go. "He's always running and jumping, and doing backflips and cartwheels," said Dwyronyelle "Dee" Gillard, Deuce's mom. "He loves football like his dad."

Deuce's father, Rashad Gholston Sr., is a former wide receiver for the Florida State University football team from 2010 to 2014. Dee also is very athletic and was an accomplished basketball player at Atlantic High School in Port Orange.

The energetic mother and son both were diagnosed at age 2 with congenital heart disease (CHD) and had open heart surgery to repair atrial septal defects (ASD). A congenital heart defect, ASD is characterized by an opening in the wall (the atrial septum) between the heart's two upper chambers (the right and left atria). Deuce received outpatient pediatric cardiology care at Wolfson Children's at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare specialty center and life-saving surgery at Wolfson Children's Hospital of Jacksonville. Dee had the same heart surgery as her son in 1997 at a central Florida children's hospital.

The most common birth defect in the United States, CHD includes a range of abnormalities of the heart that develop prior to birth.

During Deuce's routine well care visit at North Florida Pediatrics in Tallahassee, pediatrician Anna Koeppel, MD, detected a heart murmur, indicating a possible heart defect or underlying heart problem. She referred Deuce and Dee to consult with pediatric cardiologist Justin "Mac" Vining, MD, at Wolfson Children's at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

Dr. Vining ordered diagnostic testing for Deuce including an EKG, which measures and interprets the heart's electrical activity, and an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to get a detailed picture of the heart. "There was evidence of right ventricular enlargement on the EKG, so I ordered an echo, which confirmed his diagnosis," said Dr. Vining.

In medical terms, Deuce had an ASD, one of the defects referred to as "a hole in the heart." Dee had the same condition as a child.

Because the opening was very large, Dr. Vining recommended surgical repair and that Deuce and his family consult with Michael Shillingford, MD, chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Wolfson Children's Hospital and faculty member of UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Shillingford performed open-heart surgery to repair the hole in Deuce's heart late last year.

Children and adults with ASD must see a cardiologist for regular checkups. Deuce's first follow-up appointment took place with Dr. Vining at Wolfson Children's at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. Fortunately, the family's new home, Daytona Beach, also has a Wolfson Children's Specialty Center. This allows Deuce to continue to be monitored by pediatric cardiologists with the Wolfson Children's Hospital and UF Health College of Medicine -- Jacksonville.
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