Wayne

I found my baby book! Actually, it wasn’t misplaced, just sitting on a shelf; but I got it down and learned about someone that you should know about.

Wayne Lanier, a resident of North Charleston, SC, was also born with a defective heart. I can’t find a news article that says exactly what his defect was, but I’m betting it was Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF). He was in his late teens or early twenties in 1967, and he had his original heart operation at the age of two and a half. One of the articles pasted into my baby book says that his operation was done at Johns Hopkins. There’s a good chance that he had a Blalock-Taussig Shunt done by Blalock himself.

The operation was a sucess. “Wayne graduated to a wheelchair,” the article reports, “and took off one day with nurses in full pursuit down the hospital corridors.” I bet that was quite a sight!

Wayne was back at Hopkins when he was twenty, undergoing another operation to repair a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). With that operation, the newspaper article states that “Wayne, then 20, became the first person in the world to undergo total correction of the “blue baby” heart defect.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, my parents took me to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) while they were trying to get a correct diagnosis of my heart defect. While there, they either called Wayne’s parents or met them. (I don’t know which, I was five months old.) The Laniers sang the praises of Johns Hopkins Hospital, which led to my parents asking my pediatrician if there was any kind of surgery for me. When he told them that there was, and Hopkins was one of the places that could do it, that pretty much sealed the deal. My parents considered other locations, but based on what they had been told, they were already leaning toward Johns Hopkins.

There is a photo in my baby book of a young man with a crew cut and horn rimmed glasses, sitting on our couch holding an infant. Obviously, I’m the infant. And the handwritten caption says that the photo was taken March 23, 1967, and identifies the young man as Wayne Lanier.

What was it like to be a CHD survivor back in the late 1960’s, when nobody knew anything about Heart Defects and cardiac surgery was so new? I’d love to sit down with Wayne and ask him. According to my best guess, he’d be in his mid to late 60’s today. Googling his name brings up nothing useful, and after a lot of thought my parents said that they believed he had passed away, but weren’t certain.

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