Blackville alumni helping heart defect survivor

Austyn Alexander White, a native of Blackville, and his family participated in the Low Country Heart Walk in Charleston South Carolina on September 30, 2017.

One-year-old Austyn was born on April 18, 2016 weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg. Three days after his birth, Austyn was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as Tretology of Fallot, a problem with the heart's structure that is present at birth. Congenital heart defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.

Austyn was immediately transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Richmond Lexington Hospital in Columbia where it was determined that he needed to have a lifesaving surgery; however, he needed to gain more weight in order to have a successful surgery. Surgery was scheduled to take place at the age of six months.

Due to breathing complications associated with "Tet Spells", Austyn had to immediately have his open heart surgery at the MUSC Neonatal Heart Unit in Charleston at three months old. Sometimes, babies who have Tetralogy of Fallot will suddenly develop deep blue skin, nails and lips after crying or feeding, or when agitated. These episodes are called "tet spells" and are caused by a rapid drop in the amount of oxygen in the blood.

During surgery, doctors had to widen or replace the pulmonary valve and enlarge the passage to the pulmonary artery. They also placed a patch over the ventricular septal defect to close the hole between the two lower chambers of the heart.

At the time of his surgery, Austyn was the largest baby in the Neonatal Intensive care unit and did not have to be handled like the other intensive care newborns. Because he was chunky and didn’t look like a sick baby, family members would often find him at one of the nurse stations or being held by one of the nurses in the Intensive Care Unit.

Austyn no longer has "Tet Spells" and has had no major problems since his heart surgery. He only had to receive a series of injections since his surgery.

Austyn’s current weight is 37 pounds and he is 2.7 feet tall. His heart disease has not stopped him from being a healthy, intelligent, busy little boy. He loves trucks, playing football, saying his ABC’s, singing nursery rhymes, taking the books off his Nani’s book shelf and hanging out with his uncle Bart.

On Saturday, September 30, Austyn participated in the Low Country Heart Walk in Charleston. He enjoyed the activities and events of the Low Country Heart Walk so much that he has been registered to participate in the Midlands Heart Walk in Columbia on March 28, 2018. Austyn is being sponsored by the Blackville Public Schools Alumni Association (BPSAA) with a goal to raise $1,000 for the American Heart Association. At least two other agencies have expressed an interest in sponsoring Austyn for the American Heart Association.

Austyn is the grandson of Beverly Williams, the BPSAA Membership Director. Like her grandson, Williams is also a fighter as she overcame a 2012 diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“One of the reasons I fought so hard to be a survivor was because I wanted to experience being a grandmother,” said Williams. It’s a fight that paid off.

Jaleel Irons, the brother of the BPSAA Vice President, Dr. Shaneen Dials-Carujo, is also a congenital heart disease survivor that will be sponsored by the BPSAA.

Go to the Blackville Public Schools Alumni Association page or 2018 Midlands Heart Walk page to pledge donations in honor of a family member or friend with a heart disease. Everyone is being encouraged to support our local survivors in the Blackville and surrounding Communities by participating in this event. The team name is Blackville Public Schools Alumni Assoc.