It Takes Heart: Spotlight on Vet Tech Student Mollee Whyte

Mollee Whyte had her first heart surgery when she was eight days old and her most recent in March 2014. Through each surgery, Mollee has kept a positive attitude and has never let congenital heart disease get in the way of her life. As a student in Globe University’s vet tech program, Mollee is an exemplary student and representative of the La Crosse campus.

Doctors first noticed a heart murmur shortly after Mollee’s birth during her stay in the NICU. “After finding the murmur, the pediatric cardiologist came to examine me, and he found out that I had a hole between the bottom chambers of my heart,” Mollee said.

Mollee posing by the SCNAVTA board

Ventricular septic defect (VSD) was the official diagnosis, along with a coarctation, a blockage in the main artery of the heart.

Doctors set out to fix the blockage first. “At eight days old, the doctors repaired my coarctation by cutting the narrowing piece of the blockage and putting the two good ends together,” Mollee said. “I spent three more weeks in the NICU with staples from the middle of my chest to the middle of my back. After those three weeks, I went home for the first time; my parents were so happy to take me home.”

When she was twelve, doctors discovered another coarctation in the same area as the first. This time, her doctors took a different approach. “My doctors sent me to Iowa City to have a stent put into my heart through catheterization, instead of having to cut me open again,” Mollee said.

“A year and a half later, the heart echo showed that my VSD was pulling part of the aortic valve into the hole in my heart,” Mollee said. “Because this could have caused damage to my aortic valve, they closed the hole and checked to make sure there was no damage.”

Mollee underwent open heart surgery to close the hole in her heart, which went well. However, about six weeks later, doctors discovered Mollee had pericarditis, which is a fluid buildup around the heart.

“My body was rejecting something from the surgery, so the fluid was from my heart trying to protect itself,” Mollee said. “My doctor wanted to send me back to Madison to have surgery to put a window in the lining of my heart for drainage.”

Though Mollee had endured previous surgeries and procedures, this surgery was different. “When I found out about this surgery, I was scared,” she said. “I hoped and prayed every night that the fluid would just disappear.”

Six months after the doctors found the fluid around her heart, Mollee discovered her prayers were answered. “Before my surgery, the miracle happened, and there was no more fluid on my heart,” she exclaimed. “You cannot imagine how happy I was when I found out that I didn’t have to have another surgery. It was like the biggest weight was lifted from my shoulders.”

Mollee on a vet tech field trip

Despite her medical battles, Mollee has forged ahead and is taking advantage of her good health. Since entering the vet tech program at Globe University-La Crosse, she has always taken a full-time credit load and hasn’t slowed down, even starting a new quarter only three days after having her most recent procedure.

Mollee keeps active by not only attending school full time, but also as a student worker in the library, as a member of the the Globe-La Crosse chapter of SCNAVTA, babysitting, and working at Tender Care Animal Hospital, and Build-A-Bear.

Vet Tech Program Chair Amy Stinson praised Mollee’s hard work. “Mollee always comes to class with a smile and determination to become an awesome veterinary technician!”

Students, take some advice from Mollee: “Stay on top of all your homework and study! Make friends, have fun and don’t take life for granted.” Mollee sure hasn’t, and we are very proud to have her as a Globe student.