Prudence Iyok was used to seeing her young son Arthur running around dribbling a basketball, but for several days he had been running a high fever and had no appetite. Mrs. Iyok, who is a pharmacist, consulted several doctors during those days but it wasn’t until she took Arthur to the Albany Medical Center emergency department that she began to get some answers.
There, a team of emergency physicians, neurologists and cardiologists determined that Arthur, who by that time could only partially move his left arm and was having trouble speaking, had endocarditis (an infection in the heart) and as a result had also suffered a stroke.
“It was surreal. Whoever expects a normally healthy 7-year-old boy to have a stroke?” his mother recalled.
Arthur was immediately put on antibiotics to address the infection and placed in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Over the next three weeks, Arthur gradually began to recover until he was well enough to leave the PICU for the pediatric unit.
However, the infection had also damaged Arthur’s heart. His mitral valve, the heart valve that prevents backflow of blood from the left ventricle into the left atrium, was not working properly and Arthur required surgery. During a five-hour operation, Dr. Neil Devejian, chief of the division of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, repaired Arthur’s mitral valve and removed infected tissue from his heart.
Arthur recovered well and went home. But the infection had thinned the muscles in his heart and almost a year later his doctors found an aneurysm—a ballooning of the weakened tissue. When Arthur heard he needed another surgery, he said, “I am not doing it unless I have Dr. Devejian!”
Arthur’s demand was met and Dr. Devejian repaired the embolism without complications. “Dr. Devejian always makes me smile,” said Arthur, who, to his mother’s great joy, is back to spending his time dribbling his basketball in the driveway.