This was the scene one month ago as students at Garcia Elementary waved goodbye and good luck to Ethann Hernandez as he left for the school year.
“I felt scared, but I felt brave at the same time,” said Ethann.
Ethann would not be coming back to Garcia Elementary for the spring, instead he was preparing to have open heart surgery.
“He was nervous I was nervous, everybody there was nervous,” said his mom Brittney Hernandez.
Doctors had told her that he would need to undergo valve replacements.
“Pretty overwhelming,” said Hernandez.
Both his aortic and pulmonary valve, which control blood flow through the heart, weren’t working the way they should. So, on April 24th Ethann’s family went in to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, ready to face a major procedure.
“They were going to go in and do the first one which was the aortic valve and his pulmonary valve was also having issues, so they went in and did surgery and they were able to fix both of them but are his own valves, so they didn’t have to do replacements,” said Hernandez.
Ethann’s valves were finally fixed.
“I was fine when the doctor was there but then when I had to give the message to somebody else that’s when I started crying and I couldn’t talk,” said Hernandez.
Following his surgery Hernandez says Ethann has been recovering well, aside from some minor post-surgery symptoms.
“He went to a follow-up surgery with his cardiologist and he had a lot of fluid around his heart,” said Hernandez.
With medication Hernandez says Ethann’s heart is close to being back to normal, and he says he feels great.
“I feel normal now, I don’t feel like I had a surgery,” said Hernandez.
“He’s pretty much like a normal little boy,” said Hernandez. “He tries so hard to get back to normal activities, but we and his nurse have to tell him hey you have to sit back.”
She says his pediatrician is discussing the possibility of removing his trachea, but she wants to wait for Ethann to make a full recovery before jumping into any more major surgeries.
In the meantime, Ethann says he’s grateful for all the support he received from both the community and his family
“God bless you all and thank you for praying for me,” said Hernandez.