December Giving and Growing

Chantel Strahan holds son Xavier as Dr. Marc Walker looks at his hand post-surgery in June.
Chantel Strahan holds son Xavier as Dr. Marc Walker looks at his hand post-surgery in June.
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Our Patients: Ocean Springs child’s heart, hands mended at Children’s of Mississippi

Published on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

By: Annie Oeth,

Xavier Strahan has a strong heart for playing and busy hands for putting puzzles together and grasping play tools, thanks to care from pediatric experts at Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson and on the Gulf Coast.

Xavier, 3, of Ocean Springs was born with congenital heart defects and thumb hypoplasia, a rare congenital difference found in about one out of every 100,000 infants.

Prenatal care gave no clues of Xavier’s medical journey ahead, said his mother, Chantel Strahan. “We were told that he was perfectly healthy – 10 toes, 10 fingers, strong heartbeat.”

After he was born, though, Xavier’s heart condition became apparent. He was airlifted to Children’s of Mississippi for cardiac care. The pediatric arm of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Children’s of Mississippi includes the state’s only children’s hospital and clinics across the state that bring specialty care closer to home for patients.

“Xavier had a narrowing of the aorta and a ventricular septal defect, a hole between the bottom chambers of his heart,” said Dr. Brian Kogon, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s of Mississippi. Surgical corrections were made, and once his heart became healthy, care for his thumb hypoplasia began.

“In Xavier’s case, both his thumbs were underdeveloped and nonfunctional,” said Dr. Marc Walker, UMMC assistant professor of plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery. “Bilateral thumb hypoplasia occurs in only half of these cases, making it even rarer.”

Xavier continues to see Dr. Brad Troutman for follow-up cardiology care at the Children’s of Mississippi Biloxi Specialty Clinic, just minutes from his home; for his thumb hypoplasia, he sees Walker at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson.