Ted and Christie Pinney describe their daughter, Tatum, as a girl with a brave heart.
At Tatum’s four-week checkup, her pediatrician heard a murmur in that brave heart. She was sent to Arkansas Children’s Cardiology Clinic for tests, where physicians diagnosed Tatum with a bicuspid aortic valve with stenosis.
The cardiologists did not recommend surgery until Tatum was 6 years of age when she underwent a valvuloplasty procedure. This provided relief until 2017. At the age of 8, Tatum underwent open heart surgery to replace both of her heart valves.
“My initial reaction was fear—no one in our family has heart problems,” says Christie. “After many conversations with God, doctors, and friends who have had health challenges with their kids, my husband and I made the decision to have Tatum’s surgery at Arkansas Children’s.”
Ted and Christie’s fear was soon replaced by “peace, comfort, and confidence knowing Tatum has the doctors and nurses at Arkansas Children’s taking care of her health.” They are also thankful that Arkansas Children’s is within close driving distance to the Pinney home.“We are so fortunate to have such an amazing hospital right in our backyard!”
As a volunteer member of the Committee for the Future for seven years, a good deal of Christie’s time was spent fundraising for Arkansas Children’s.
“I never knew when I started working with CFF that we’d become part of the Arkansas Children’s family—this was before Tatum was born,” she says.
Christie singles out Arkansas Children’s cardiologist Dr. Paul Sieb as their go-to doctor.
“He has been Tatum's cardiologist since the beginning. We are very thankful for Dr. Sieb; his light shines bright and we are blessed because of it!” Tatum’s favorite nurse? That would be nurse Megan, who was “her first nurse out of her first open heart surgery. Megan gave us all comfort, was incredibly knowledgeable and uplifting and very dependable and trustworthy.”
Tatum’s heart appears to be thriving and allows her to participate in her favorite pastimes, such as tumbling (back handsprings and backflips), volleyball, arts, and crafts, and playing outside with her friends. Christie says that Tatum envisions a future career in either veterinary medicine or volleyball.
“She has such a light that is completely infectious! She is compassionate, competitive and caring,” says Christie.
“Imagine a roller coaster—most people have their hands holding on to the rail tightly in fear. Tatum is the one with her hands high in the air, screaming with joy and excitement!”
Asked to sum up the Pinney family’s experience with Tatum’s health challenges, Christie expresses a spiritually resilient approach: “’FAITH, NOT FEAR’ has become our family's mantra.”