Three surgeries later, T.J. still going strong
It's the summer before his first grade year and Tyrone Smith, Jr is not letting a little thing like a hole in his heart slow him down.
He was born Feb. 9, 2006 with a hole in his heart. As a result, one of his heart valves will not remain open. The summer of 2009 doctors discovered that Tyrone was experiencing just 20 percent blood flow to one lung and 80 percent to the other.
Tyrone Smith Sr, said his son – nicknamed T.J. remains full of energy in spite of two heart surgeries and one lung surgery the little boy already has behind him.
"We took him to the doctor yesterday (Monday) ... his checkup went well," he said. "Everything has been fine."
Not only does T.J. actively participate as a member of the Express Energy Service Tigers coach pitch baseball team, but he was recently honored as one of Harper Elementary Students of the Year.
While his family does as the doctor ordered and treats him "just like any other kid," he stills faces the possibility of another surgery.
"We have to go back (to the doctor) in six months ... that will be in December," Smith said.
"Then, from there, we will pretty much know what is what."
According to Smith, his son presently has a shunt to allow better blood flow to his lungs, but the discovery of more blockage has doctors monitoring the situation to decide the next step.
"Basically they are just watching the blockage to see if it is going to get better or if it is going to get worse," Smith said.
In the event surgery is needed, Smith said it would be lengthy and performed in 2013 or 2014.
"They will do a long surgery ... they will go in there and put another shunt in so the blood will flow back further through the lung," he said.
While T.J. enjoys playing coach pitch baseball, his father said the possibility of ever playing contact sports is out.
"We found out as he gets older he won't be able to play basketball or football because they don't want him to get injured.
"The doctor won't allow him to play because they (other players) could elbow him in the chest. Basically, they are trying to protect his chest area."
T.J's mother is Lakeitha Mitchell, his older brother is Keantonio Moore and his grandparents are Edna Smith, Loraine Mitchell and Kenneth Wayne Phenix, all of Minden.
T.J. and his family attend Greater St. Paul Baptist Church.