Breathing Easy

Loretta Coureas

Timothy in 1993 on the cover of Kidstuff
Timothy in 1993 on the cover of Kidstuff

When Timothy Jacobs appeared on a 1993 Kidstuff cover, his broad smile revealed a missing front tooth but no sign of the deeply sunken chest that had complicated his first 10 years of life.

Timothy was 10 years of age and one of the early patients to receive the Nuss Procedure to correct sunken chest syndrome, which was being perfected by CHKD surgeon Donald Nuss. Dr. Nuss’ surgery has since become the worldwide surgical standard for pectus excavatum correction. His innovative technique greatly reduces the amount of surgery needed to prevent the sternum from curving inward and crowding internal organs.

Timothy’s parents, Tim and Tracy Jacobs, described the many breathing and heart problems he suffered before they decided to bring their son to CHKD for the extraordinary new surgery. The boy experienced immediate relief after surgery with his breastbone repositioned by the bars Dr. Nuss placed as a brace between his ribs.

At age 10, Timothy underwent the Nuss Procedure for sunken chest, developed at CHKD by its namesake a few years before it became an international phenomenon.
At age 10, Timothy underwent the Nuss Procedure for sunken chest, developed at CHKD by its namesake a few years before it became an international phenomenon.

Asthma and other problems related to his premature birth brought him back to CHKD’s specialists for several years, so his memories of the hospital remain fresh today.

Now 21, Timothy no longer suffers breathing, allergy and energy problems. A graduate of Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, his passion is tinkering with computers. “I love solving computer problems. I want to attend technical school so I can work on computers,” he says.

The boy who once struggled for every breath enjoys playing football, basketball and golf as a young man.

He was pleasantly surprised recently to see Dr. Nuss being interviewed on television. “He is a great man,” Timothy smiled.

This story was featured in the third quarter 2008 issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.