|Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Focus.
Hunter Javin is a lot like other third graders. He loves to go hunting with his dad. He likes to play flag football and ride his bike. He’s smart, polite, and has a great imagination. He’d do anything for a friend and has been known to give up his Christmas presents for a stranger. He always wears his heart on his sleeve.
"He amazes me," his mother says. "He’s a very strong young man. Just when I think he’s awed me as much as he can, he tops it and does something that awes me even more."
The first amazing thing Hunter did was survive infancy. Toby and Janice Javin had no idea their son had serious medical problems when he was born at Munson Medical Center nine years ago.
"He was a fussy baby, so I took him in to his pediatrician a week before his one-month checkup," Janice said. "He was drowning from the liquid in his lungs."
The Javins soon learned the extent of Hunter’s congenital abnormalities: his heart had one large chamber rather than four, only one valve, and was tilted to the right instead of the left; his organs were reversed; he had no spleen. Before they knew it, the family was headed to University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor to get the specialty pediatric care Hunter needed, including four open-heart surgeries.
Hunter is doing well now, but his parents remain vigilant, especially following a life-threatening bout of flu last summer that sent him back to U of M hospital via helicopter.
"We’re always on our toes," Janice said. When she looks at Hunter and his healthy little sister Seryna, 7, she counts her blessings. "We’re very lucky. We still have our little guy. We have a lot to be thankful for."
McDonald Dick, II, MD, tops the list. Dr. Dick is a pediatric cardiologist from U of M who has been part of Hunter’s care team since the beginning. Dr. Dick travels to Traverse City six times a year to monitor about 150 children in northern Michigan with cardiology concerns.
Seeing Dr. Dick in Traverse City takes a burden off the whole family, Janice said. "It’s very beneficial for us. To go to Ann Arbor, we have to pull Hunter out of school, find care for our daughter, and make a whole bunch of other arrangements. My husband is in construction, so that means a day of lost work for him. He wouldn’t have to go, but he’s Hunter’s dad - he wants to be there. We’ve had times when we’ve left at 4 am to get there by 9 am to avoid a hotel bill. It’s very handy to see Dr. Dick here."