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…