Tim Melville Spotlight

Big Leaguer Tim Melville

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It’s been 15 years since Tim Melville underwent surgery to repair a severe case of pectus excavatum, but he thinks about that life-changing surgery every day.

Photo credit: The Cincinnati Reds 

Melville was 11 years old when he underwent the Nuss Procedure at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters during the winter of 2001. His sternum was pressing against his heart and lungs, making it difficult to breathe and for him exert himself.

Dr. Donald Nuss, creator of the revolutionary procedure, performed the operation with Dr. Robert Kelly, who is now CHKD’s vice president, chief of surgery. A single, curved bar was inserted beneath Tim’s rib cage and flipped to return Tim’s chest to a normal shape. After a little more than a year, the bar was removed.

Fast-forward to the present: The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Melville (pictured) made his major-league debut April 10 for the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first Nuss Procedure patient to reach the big leagues. Tim is a shining example of what the Nuss Procedure can allow patients to do in the long term.

“I doubt that I’d be where I am today, doing what I do, if I hadn’t had the surgery,” Melville says.

Melville didn’t realize he had pectus excavatum until him mother, Valerie, read an article in KidStuff magazine. After reading the article, Tim’s family approached Dr. Nuss, asking if he could help.

The Melvilles moved from Chesapeake, Va., to the St. Louis suburbs before his ninth-grade year. He was drafted out of high school and has played professional baseball since.

While the small incision scars on the sides of his rib cages are reminders of a surgery from long ago, he often is reminded in another way.

“Because my story is out there and can be found on the internet, I get a lot of emails and letters from young athletes who have pectus and want to ask about the surgery,” Melville said.

Melville happily engages young patients through emails, webcasts, and in-person when he can.

“It changed my life for the better,” Melville says. “I’m so thankful I had the procedure done at such a young age. It allowed me to excel in the things I wanted to do in life.”

(757) 668-7703

Tim Melville visits CHKD