School nurse's discovery may have saved 4th grader's life - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

School nurse's discovery may have saved 4th grader's life

Zachary and his school nurses Zachary and his school nurses
Zachary Mathina and his mother Zachary Mathina and his mother

(WMC-TV) - A school nurse performing a routine health screening on a fourth grader made a discovery that very well could have saved his life.

Zachary Mathina is just like the other kids in his class, except he has a rare blocked aorta and bad aortic valve, a very serious medical condition.

But until recently, Zachary had no idea there was anything wrong. The possibly life-threatening condition was discovered during a routine health screening at school.

He showed no symptoms, but when the school nurse performed Zachary's screening, she found his blood pressure to be abnormally high for someone his age.

"Just the normal energetic child he is. He came through my line to get his blood pressure checked. It was high. I checked the other arm and it was high as well," said Elisha Childress, school nurse.

From there, he was taken to his pediatrician. There was almost no blood flow to Zachary's heart or the lower part of his body.

"We went four or five times and the last time, I had surgery and it was fixed just like that," said Zachary.

A stent was put in at Le Bonheur to correct the blocked artery and bad valve.

Zachary and his mom, Suzi Mathina, credit the school nurses for saving his life.

"Our children, as perfect as they may seem, may have an issue there that needs to be addressed in order for them to live the full life they're supposed to," said Suzi.

"We make referrals and sometimes parents don't follow up and in this case, we're grateful she did," said Coordinated School Health Director Jessica Roser.

Zachary's heart blockage was something he had since birth.

"Well I'm gonna have to stop soccer and I'm gonna have to stop games that get my heart beating too fast," he said.

Zachary's mother says for the most part, he has a clean bill of health, but he will have to go back to the cardiologist once a year for checkups.

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