Child Ambassador Steven Henry (center) with parents Sean (left) and Tracy Henry (right)

It began with a simple, “something just doesn’t feel right,” from active, healthy, 14-year-old Steven Henry over Christmas vacation. By New Year’s Day 2010, he was referred to a pediatric cardiologist and fitted with a heart monitor, followed by a shocking diagnosis on Valentine’s Day. By St. Patrick’s Day, he had undergone a five-hour cardiac procedure to save his life.

The diagnosis was Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW), a rare electrical disorder of the heart. Most often the condition is benign, but in some cases it can be fatal. Steven’s parents were told after surgery that his was a particularly dangerous variety.

They were told six months later that another procedure was needed. It was four days before the family was scheduled to move from Tampa, Florida to Nashville. Realizing that a new hometown would mean a new place for his follow-up treatment as well, anxiety began to grip his parents.

“I was about to panic when I thought we would have to switch cardiologists midstream, but as soon as our doctor realized we were moving to Nashville, he immediately brightened and referred us directly to his colleague at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Dr. (Frank) Fish,” said Steven’s mother, Tracey. “I was vaguely aware of Vanderbilt’s highly-regarded reputation, but to be reassured by someone in the field, I was not only immediately put at ease but thankful we would have such an invaluable resource for his care right around the corner from our new home.”

That invaluable resource was Vanderbilt’s nationally ranked pediatric cardiology program. All of Steven’s post-operative and follow-up care was with the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Children’s Hospital. A year later, Steven was given the encouraging news that he could expect no further cardiac issues, and his next follow-up appointment would be around the time he goes to college.

Steven is finishing his sophomore year at Father Ryan High School without any medical restrictions. He is on the hockey and lacrosse teams and active in the drama club and Relay For Life. He is a stellar older brother to his three siblings, Matthew (11), Amy (8) and Jessica (4).

Steven recognizes that without outstanding medical care, his experience could have ended much differently. “During a very confusing time when I often had more questions than answers, it was nice to know I had Vanderbilt nearby,” he said.

About the Iroquois Steeplechase
Held on the second Saturday of every May at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park, the Iroquois Steeplechase is the premier spring race in American steeplechasing and Music City’s traditional rite of spring – typically attracting more than 25,000 spectators. Since being designated in 1981 as the official charity of the Iroquois Steeplechase, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has received more than $9 million from the event proceeds. For information on advance ticket purchases, corporate and hospitality tents, and tailgating and RV spaces, visit or call (615) 591-2991.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a freestanding hospital dedicated to serving only children, is nationally recognized as a leading provider of pediatric health care services. Experts treat and work to prevent all health issues ranging from common childhood conditions to serious, advanced diseases. Featuring Centers of Excellence for the treatment of diabetes and congenital heart disorders, Children’s Hospital also operates the region’s only level 1 pediatric trauma unit and a neonatal intensive care unit with the highest designated level of care. In addition, Children’s Hospital is a top-level teaching and research facility. No child is denied care on basis of limited ability to pay.

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