The “Tin Man” | Family Shares Story of a Baby’s Open Heart Surgery

This is the story of the baby “Tin Man” and his family’s love.

When Trey and Nicole Flynn discovered their unborn baby is a boy, they could not help but feel overjoyed at the exciting news. However, before they could even celebrate this news, they were told of a heart-stopping discovery the ultrasound technician found: there is something awfully wrong with the baby’s heart.

baby holden the tin man

The heartbreaking news broke the couple. They spent the next week grieving and crying hard. Then, Trey decided it was enough. They would ensure the baby would feel extra special, no matter what happens.

Trey called the baby the “Tin Man” because he had a defective heart – in allusion to the tin man’s lack of a heart in the Wizard of Oz.

Their journey was filled with both sorrow and happiness. The child, Holden, was adorable and soon grew to be a curious little kid; though he had to undergo an open heart surgery by the time he was 4 months old.

Despite having only half a heart – just 2 chambers and 1 valve instead of 4 chambers and 2 valves – he enjoyed a happy, active life. He loved his pet fish and enjoyed his favorite pal, an Elmo stuffed toy.

He was on the waitlist for a heart but even before they could find a donor, Holden passed away. He was 26 months old. His journey might not be a long one but he touched the lives of millions of people. Today, his family continues his legacy by helping other kids with congenital heart problems through The Holden Flynn Foundation.

Watch the family’s heartbreaking journey here:

Congenital Heart Defects

Defects in the heart that are already present at birth are called congenital heart defects. Some are easy to detect while others only manifest a few weeks after the child is born. In serious cases such as baby Holden’s, the defect is discovered before birth.

Symptoms of congenital heart problems include poor blood circulation, fatigue, rapid breathing, and cyanosis which manifests as bluish tint in the baby’s lips, skin, and fingernails.

Treatments for these problems depend on the type of defect and the extent of the condition. Some conditions can be treated with medications while others, such as Holdens’, require some sort of surgery. Extreme cases might need open heart surgery while others might need catheter procedures.

Thanks to advances in testing and treatment, many babies with congenital heart defects grow to adulthood as healthy individuals. A lot might need special care throughout the lives.