‘A special heart’

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dylon Smith said God gave him a special heart.

Unfortunately for him, it’s a heart that does not work right and, without surgery, could kill him.

To make that surgery happen, 3-year-old Dylon and his parents, Shelli and Matthew Smith of Andalusia, will travel in June to Houston, Texas, where he will undergo surgery to cure his rare congenital heart defect called a “circumflex aorta” — but they need the community’s help to finance the three-week stay in Texas.

“Dylon is such a tough little guy,” Shelli Smith said. “He never cries about the IV. He’s just amazing.”

A routine check up last May at his local doctor’s office revealed Dylon had a heart murmur.

“Dr. Kerr, who was my doctor when I was growing up, saved Dylon’s life,” she said. “If he hadn’t found that murmur, Dylon would have been one of those stories on TV where you hear about a 10-year-old having a heart attack.”

Kerr sent the Smith family to a specialist who uncovered that Dylon suffered from a multitude of health problems — all of which were life-threatening if not corrected.

“Sometimes it’s so scary to say out loud,” she said. “He’s got the problem with his heart, which basically is that it has a hard time pumping blood. The aorta actually comes around the back of his neck and puts pressure on his esophagus and the subclavian artery has to be attached to his heart. So he doesn’t have enough blood flow to the left side of his body, which makes his arm weak and he has a limp.

“But he doesn’t let it get him down,” she said.

To repair the damage to Smith’s heart, the family chose a world-renowned surgeon at the No. 3 hospital in the nation.

“Dylon’s case is so rare,” she said. “The specialist we chose said he has been doing this for years and he has never seen it before. He said the odds of something like this is 1 in 300,000 of a similar, not identical, circumstance.

“When you hear something like this, you’re rendered speechless,” she said. “But then you know that God is in control of every situation, regardless of the outcome. I know that when Dylon grows up, he’s going to have a testimony for God that’s out of this world.”

The surgery is expected to last up to 12 hours and will require the use of a heart/lung bypass machine to reroute Smith’s blood while the surgery is performed. He will be intubated and required to undergo a three-week recovery process before being able to return home.

It will be a long and arduous trip, which is where the community help comes in.

The Smiths and Shelli Smith’s mom, Deborah Stuckey, will have to stay in a hotel room for the duration of Dylon’s hospital stay, and to raise money to help cover those costs, the family is organizing a yard sale for May 9 and donations are needed.

“We thought that this was a great way to help us come up with some of the costs for the trip,” Shelli Smith said. “We’re going to drive, not fly. The hotel room alone looks to be somewhere around $2,000 and that doesn’t include food or gas. Meredith’s Miracles and the Coterie Club have already given us donations, but we still have to raise more money.”

Shelli said her husband will also be out of work a week so that he can stay the entire three weeks in Houston.

Anyone wishing to donate items for the yard sale, which will be held at the Andalusia Farmer’s Market, starting at 7 a.m., is asked to call the Smith family at 334-222-5566 or 334-343-5836.

Smith is scheduled for surgery on June 17. To follow his recovery process, visit the family’s blog site at http://dylonhoustonlaetonreid.blogspot.com/.