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August Calendar Kid: Surgery success for soccer-loving Sully
August 11, 2021
Chest Wall surgery patient

Chest wall surgery success for soccer-loving Sully

When 9-year-old Sulliven (Sully, for short) Stryker was just 3, his cousin noticed an inward curve in his chest. That’s what first drew Sully’s mom Lindsey’s attention to it. She took him to his pediatrician, who referred him to Dr. Thomas Yeh, cardiothoracic surgeon, and his CHoR journey began.

Detailed diagnosis and distinctive care for pectus excavatum

It didn’t take long for Sully and his family to learn they had a special team in their corner.

Sherri Maters is my angel! Our very first appointment included getting x-rays and she was with us every step of the way – literally – even giving Sully a piggyback ride,” said Lindsey.

Based on his assessment and testing, Dr. Yeh diagnosed Sully with pectus excavatum – a condition where the chest wall is sunken as a result of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone growing inward.

“Treatment options for pectus excavatum range from non-surgical techniques to minimally-invasive surgery,” explained Dr. Yeh. “I saw Sully for yearly checkups, including x-rays and chest measurements, to track the progression of his condition. I got to know his family and appreciated his stoic but funny personality that came out during our visits.”

Nuss procedure was the solution for Sully

These regular appointments showed that Sully’s chest was depressing further over time. By the time Sully turned 8, Dr. Yeh recommended surgery. While surgery can be a scary thought for kids and parents, the Strykers knew they were in the best hands with an experienced heart surgeon who’s cared for hundreds of kids and teens with similar conditions.

“The Nuss procedure is a minimally-invasive procedure where we make a small incision on each side of the chest and position a bar behind the sternum to push the depression from the inside out,” added Dr. Yeh. “Sully was able to return home just two days after surgery and to his normal activities within several weeks.”

Keeping up with soccer and summer fun

Since having the surgery in August 2019, Sully is breathing more easily, facing fewer chest infections and benefitting from greater endurance – the result of reduced pressure on his heart and lungs. This is great news for the soccer lover, who has been to soccer camp this summer and played in his first Sun Cup Soccer Tournament this year.

In addition to soccer camp, Sully has been making the most of his summer with vacations, video games and playing pool. He’s also known for his love of food and willingness to try anything new.

Dr. Yeh and the heart center team continue to see Sully for regular appointments to make sure he’s progressing and feeling well, and the bar is doing its job without getting too tight. They’ll also use these checkups to help determine when the time is right to remove the bar – likely in a couple years – and complete treatment.

Though Sully has been dealing with his pectus excavatum for as long as he can remember, he hasn’t let it keep him from giving his whole heart to everyone and everything.

“His father and I are most proud of Sully because of his love and support for other people and how he puts effort into everything he does and doesn’t give up. He’s an amazing kid,” said Mom.

Find out more about our chest wall programs and full-service pediatric heart center, right here at CHoR.

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