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Former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden helps bring pediatric heart surgeon to Oklahoma

Gina Mizell Published: February 14, 2014
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When the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center announced Friday that it has expanded its resources — including the introduction of a new pediatric heart surgeon — to provide complex heart care to children, former Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden was front and center.

That’s because Weeden has been a driving force behind the initiative, which now allows patients to stay in-state for surgery and care.

Weeden’s passion for the issue stems from his relationship with 7-year-old Gavin Kuykendall, a family friend who needed to travel to San Diego, Calif. for surgery. Weeden and his wife, Melanie, decided to raise awareness and funds to recruit a pediatric heart surgeon to Oklahoma.

Enter Dr. Harold Burkhardt, a cardiothoracic surgeon who comes to OU Medical from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The hospital also added specialists and equipment and renovated its operating room.

The Weedens’ next goal? Raise $1 million for an endowment to be awarded to Burkhardt.

We’ll have more on the backstory of the relationship between Brandon and Gavin in the coming days…