Ethan McKinney

ethan mckinney champion real article image
Ethan McKinney, Fishers, Ind.

To watch Ethan McKinney, 9, throw a strike at the bowling alley or ride his bike with friends, you’d never know he underwent a heart procedure not too long ago.

The third-grader from Fishers, Ind., was born with a patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, an opening between two major blood vessels leading from the heart, causing blood that’s not oxygenated to flow in the wrong direction.

Ethan’s family doctor, Dr. Mark Ambre with Riverview Health, kept tabs on the condition with hopes it would close on its own. But when Ethan turned 5 and the murmur remained, he referred the family to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. At age 7, doctors decided it was time for surgery.

To close the PDA, Riley Pediatric Cardiologist Mark Hoyer, M.D., performed a cardiac catheterization, going up through the groin to the heart and inserting a small spring to seal the opening. It was a nerve-racking time for mom Julie McKinney.

“You’re putting your trust with these people you just met, and you’re thinking, ‘I hope they value my son as much as I do,’” she recalls. “Of course, once you’re on the other side of it, you’re more thankful than you could ever imagine.”

For Ethan, what he remembers most is his first post-surgery meal -- a cheeseburger, broccoli, mac and cheese and a brownie—and helping take out his own IV.

“Not many kids get to do that!” he says, his excitement still evident two years later. “I was a little bit nervous when it was time for surgery, but then after, I was glad it was done and that I was alright.”

After surgery, Ethan is thriving, a recovery his family credits to his time at Riley. Riley Pediatric Cardiologist Timothy Cordes, M.D. provides Ethan’s continued cardiology care. For Julie, her personal Riley connection has given her a new appreciation of the commitment that her employer, Kroger, has shown Riley.

“I’ve worked as a Kroger pharmacist for over 10 years, and I’ve always been proud to be part of a team that truly gives back to the community,” she says. “I now understand the truly one-of-a-kind place Riley is and why the Kroger team prioritizes supporting the Riley team .”

Browse More Stories