19 years later, Kent teen returns to same physician for corrective surgery

Theresa Bates didn't have to look far to find the right surgeon for her daughter.

Sarah Bates with Letrice Mason

Sarah Bates with Letrice Mason

Theresa Bates didn’t have to look far to find the right surgeon for her daughter.

No need for a change of heart, she insisted, no need for a change of physicians.

The Kent woman recently returned to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the nation’s largest pediatric center, and Dr. Charles Fraser, the same pediatric heart surgeon who operated on Sarah Bates when she was an infant.

In 1995, Theresa and Scott were told that their 3-day-old daughter had Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare congenital defect that impacts the normal flow of blood through the heart.

“We knew, even before we left the hospital to head home with her, that something was wrong with her heart,” Theresa recalled. “Even scarier, we learned our little baby would need open heart surgery within the first few months of her life. This was definitely overwhelming news.”

But the Bates family found a good doctor, and Fraser’s surgery to repair baby Sarah’s heart was a success.

Sara, now 19, recently required a second surgery. She had outgrown her repair and was in need of a pulmonary valve suitable for an adult.

Fraser again performed the corrective surgery, which was a resounding success.

“We knew there was only one place we wanted her to have her heart surgery,” said Theresa, a bus driver for the Kent School District. “(Dr. Fraser) did such a great job the first time and, after all of the additional research I did, I knew there were only a few centers in the country that have the specialized expertise to do this type of pediatric cardiovascular surgery.

“Dr. Fraser and the hospital made our decision to return for Sarah’s second surgery very easy,” she said.

Sarah quickly responded. She walked a mile three days after surgery, and came home on the fourth.

“I feel a lot better,” Sarah said. “I didn’t really have anything to go off of before, but I think I’m doing a lot better. I don’t get as tired as easily.”

Sarah, a Kent Phoenix Academy graduate, was admitted to Western Kentucky University, but decided to have the corrective surgery before beginning classes.

She now plans to grow stronger, stay closer to home and attend Green River Community College.

A bright girl, Sarah wants to pursue something creative for a career. Design school is a possibility. She enjoys photography and painting.

Theresa said her daughter, the oldest of her three children, can look forward to a healthy and productive life.

“She may not be a marathon runner in the future, but there are no real restrictions,” Theresa said. “She’s doing great. We’ve had no bumps in the road. God is good.”

Quiet and humble, Sarah is passionate about people. She is thankful for her health and those who helped her regain her feet.

“I knew I can get through anything,” she said of her ordeal. “I’ve also learned how kind people can be … doing way more than I ever could have expected.”

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