New York boy, 8, has life-saving heart surgery

Max Omphalius, 8, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., was the Poughkeepsie Journal’s feature story this past Thanksgiving. Max was the youngest person ever to have a rare kind of open heart surgery that removed a life-threatening cyst in his heart. The cyst was discovered on a routine EKG screening when, other than feeling a little tired, Max displayed no symptoms of distress. Complications from an illness in May, however, signaled to Max’s parents that he would need an aggressive intervention.

Kim and Chuck Omphalius worked with their local doctors in New York to figure out the best plan of care for their son. They were advised to take Max to Boston Children’s Hospital, where the top-ranked pediatric Heart Center had the depth and breadth of expertise to skillfully handle such a complicated case.

Because only about 1 in 1,000 children born with a heart defect have a cyst, Max’s situation was incredibly unique. His cyst was attached to a heart valve, so removing it without damaging the valve would require extreme precision and preparedness. With help from advanced imaging and surgical techniques, Dr. Sitaram Emani and the Boston Children’s surgical team were able to remove Max’s cyst without causing any permanent damage to his heart.

One month after the procedure, Max spent Thanksgiving at home in New York with his family–completely cured. He was even cleared to play soccer again this season!

Kim and Chuck created a website to raise money for their son’s medical expenses and the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. Max’s positivity and strength are captured in the slogan for this effort: “MAX it out!” You can read more about Max’s journey and make a donation at: