PakerParker is not yet 2 years old, but he's already living up to his name. Within a month of his birth, doctors discovered the infant had multiple heart valve defects. The complications were so severe that at one point doctors considered him a candidate for a heart transplant.

But thanks to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital's internationally recognized Cardiovascular Surgery team - and a life-saving procedure never before performed on so young a child - Parker's heart is going strong.

Parker's story began in South Carolina in 2001. Soon after his birth, doctors discovered that the infant's aortic valve was nearly shut. Parker was immediately flown to a nearby children's hospital where he underwent a minimally invasive procedure to open his aortic valve.

Several months later, the family moved to West Palm Beach Florida, never dreaming that they would again be battling for Parker's life. A few weeks after the move, cardiologists discovered a problem with Parker's mitral valve and reported that the aortic valve was again becoming obstructed. It was then that a team of doctors recommended a heart transplant.

Hoping to avoid so drastic a measure, the family in January 2002 flew to a teaching hospital in the northeast for a valve repair. "We were told the surgery was a success, although the doctors had to insert a pacemaker," recalls Shelley, Parker's mother. "But just days after we returned home, Parker went into heart failure. We rushed him to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, where they welcomed us literally with open arms."

On February 13, 2002 - the day before Valentine's - a team led by Redmond P. Burke, Director of Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, performed a complicated procedure, replacing Parker's mitral and aortic valves with mechanical valves large enough for a small adult.

The Parker's family can't thank Dr. Burke and Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, enough. "They mean so much to me. They love Parker and treated him as if he were their own child," said Shelley. "I talk to parents of 'heart kids' from all over the world on the Internet, and I always recommend Nicklaus Children's. We're so grateful for everything they've done for Parker and for us."

For more information about The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospita or to make an appointment, please call (305) 662-8301.

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