Young at Heart: Hunter's Story

You would never think that just ten years ago the Javin family would discover Hunter had a serious heart condition.

Hunter Javin is your typical, high energy ten year old boy. He loves hunting and fishing with his dad and loves running errands with his mom. You can't forget the fact he loves playing video games with his eight-year old sister, Seryna.

"He appreciates the finer things in life. He's truly amazing," says Hunter's mother, Janice Javin.

He's an exceptional little boy who even at such a young age puts others before himself. "He would rather buy his sister something than to buy something for himself or buy one of us a gift," says Hunter's father, Toby Javin.

You would never think that just ten years ago the Javin family would discover Hunter had a serious heart condition.

"We never knew about it. It was a very big surprise. Hunter was a very fussy baby one night," says Janice.

Janice and Toby Javin knew something was wrong with hunter when he was just three weeks old. Janice thought maybe Hunter had a cold, but after doctors ran tests they concluded hunter was born with congenital heart abnormalities. His heart has one large chamber instead of four, only one valve and was tilted to the right instead of the left. He also had no spleen.

"They were surprised he was still living because he was drowning in his own fluids," says Janice

A parent's worst nightmare: realizing their child is in serious condition. That's when doctors at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City had Hunter transported by ambulance down to The University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor for pediatric treatment, including several open heart surgeries.

"Initially they put a shunt in to lower the pressure in his lungs so that he wasn't basically drowning. They had a life plan for him and so far that lifespan has been spot on. It's a wonderful hospital," says Toby.

The partnership that U of M hospital has with Munson enables families like the Javins to receive specialized treatment that ultimately saved Hunter's life.

Dr. Catherine Webb is an outreach pediatric cardiologist from U of M who practices at Munson on a monthly basis.

"The incidences of congenital heart disease meaning heart problems that you're born with is about six to eight thousand live births...I do specialized testing that the pediatricians don't necessarily have available to them," says Dr. Webb.

Dr. Webb provides close to home follow up care for Hunter and his family.

"I think it's important to have an available cardiologist to take these families in when something like that happens so they can be taken care of and reassured that things are going to be ok," says Dr. Webb.

"It's cool because then I don't have to leave for the whole day and for the whole night. They're very nice, very friendly, it's easy," says Hunter.

For the Javins it's a comfort and it allows them to look ahead in a positive direction.

"Having a tech up here that can do that, relieves us so much. It's just amazing how far we've come in ten years and where we're going to be in ten years," says Toby.

Hunter was about four years old when he had his last heart procedure. He sees Dr. Webb on a monthly basis for follow up appointments at Munson.

For more information about the Munson- University of Michigan Hospital partnership, click here.