The Beat Goes On for 1-year-old Boy after Heart Surgery at CHKD

Oakley Burner playing with hay.Oakley seemed like a perfectly healthy baby when he was born in July 2019.

But as the weeks turned into months, he kept getting sick. In December of 2019, the Hampton baby was having such a hard time breathing, he had to be admitted to CHKD. He was diagnosed with congenital heart defects called atrial septal defect and scimitar syndrome.

Fortunately, he was treated by specialists and surgeons in a regional collaborative for cardiac care, which joins the expertise of CHKD and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. The regional collaborative was officially launched in 2017 and includes pediatric cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists, intensive care physicians, and cardiac support professionals from both institutions with the goal of sharing knowledge and improving care for children with complex congenital heart defects across the state.

Oakley was scheduled to have heart surgery at CHKD in March of 2020, but because of the governor’s order to halt elective surgeries at the beginning of the pandemic, it had to be postponed. It was rescheduled for April of 2020.

The six-hour surgery was performed by Dr. James Gangemi, director of the UVA/CHKD regional collaborative for cardiac care, and Dr. Philip Smith, the chief of cardiac surgery at CHKD.

Oakley had a smooth recovery, and continues to be monitored by CHKD’s cardiac team.

“We made so many wonderful memories in 2020, and the hard times definitely showed us what we were capable of enduring,” says his mother, Alycia Burner. “It made all the positives that much sweeter. We love our heart warrior Oakley and the strength he’s helped us all find!”