COLUMBUS — Ethan Dush had to scrap a few of his plans.
Instead of playing football and basketball, he opted for the less physically demanding golf and band.
His hopes of attending a summer national Boy Scout camp in Virginia were also dashed. The days of hiking and enjoying nature weren’t worth the risk.
Dush was told by doctors that if he went, his heart might not be able to take the exertion.
The sophomore at Lakeview High School has heart valve disease. His left ventricle does not work properly, causing blood to leak back through the valve in the wrong direction. It was discovered after his doctor heard a heart murmur when Dush was about 1 year old.
He had open heart surgery at 4, when his aortic flap was replaced.
Now, his left ventricle is working at only 32 percent. In June, he began taking medication to keep his heart from failing. Dush will find out in December if he needs another heart surgery or a pacemaker.
“Being 16 years old, you shouldn’t have to worry about a pacemaker. You should be living your life and having fun. You shouldn’t have to worry about can I do this or can I do that,” said his mother Gina Dush.
The family lives near Duncan and also includes father Dan Dush and children Emma, 15, Carlie, 12, and twins Carter and Carson, 9.
Ethan continues to undergo testing to monitor his heart. This week, he is taking part in a study to check his heart while he sleeps.
With another surgery possibly looming, Gina said she is hopeful doctors will be able to find out what is wrong with her son’s heart.
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His health is often on her mind.
She thinks of young athletes who have collapsed on basketball courts and football fields and only after their death was it discovered they had heart problems. Ethan participated in basketball and football in junior high, but the family didn’t think him continuing to play was worth the risk.
Certain physical activities may put too much stress on his heart.
Even limiting his extracurricular activities to those that are less-demanding doesn’t always put Gina’s mind at ease.
“Band can be scary, too, carrying that big bass,” she said of her son playing the bass drum.
They took extra care during the recent Columbus Marching Festival. Ethan only walked a few blocks during the downtown parade and sat out the field competition.
Ethan said the only time he has really thought about his condition was when he started taking the medication. He also was reminded about what he has missed out on because of his condition when he saw photos of the Boy Scout Jamboree he didn’t get to attend.
He isn’t letting his heart condition completely hold him back. Ethan recently completed his Eagle Scout project, which included painting the parking lot lines, railing and steps at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Platte Center.
He's hoping the results of a 3-D echocardiogram study he's taking part in at Children’s Hospital will be used to help other children who have heart problems.
If his condition improves, there could be another Boy Scout camp in his future.
“If he’s healthy in two years, we will go to the World (Scout) Jamboree and I’ll go with him,” Gina said.