April 17, 2020

Young girl dreams of becoming cardiac surgeon

Libin members help grant precocious Grade 5 student's birthday dreams by taking time to talk to her about a career in health care
adlynn wandler practices her suturing skills
Adlynn Wandler, a grade 5 student, practices her suturing skills.

Most Grade 5 students would likely choose a pizza party or game night with friends for their birthday, but Adlynn Wandler isn’t like most kids her age.

The precocious 10-year-old’s interest lies in anatomy and cardio-thoracic surgery, which is why for her birthday, she requested a meeting with a heart surgeon. Her dream came true last week when she had virtual meetings with Libin Cardiovascular Institute surgeon, Dr. Holly Smith, MD, and scientist, Dr. John Tyberg, MD, PhD.

“I got really interested in this when my cousin had heart surgery,” says Adlynn. “I have done a lot of research into heart stuff, and I want to be able to fix people’s hearts.”

Adlynn has dedicated many hours to learning human anatomy, reading textbooks and conducting research on the subject.

She recently joined her older sister’s Grade 12 biology class, where she got hands-on experience dissecting a heart and lungs. Adlynn also took part in her school’s science fair, taking first place in her grade and receiving an invitation to participate at the regional science fair for the project she and a friend completed on the effects of stress on heart rate.

Adlynn’s mom, Colleen Wandler, says it’s not unusual for her daughter to focus on a topic of interest and learn as much as she can about it, but she says her daughter’s desire to learn about the heart has proven to be a bit different.

“I am always excited when Adlynn gets excited about something and encourage it, but this time it didn’t stop, it just kept going and going,” says Colleen, whose background is in business and law.

Wandler is grateful that Drs. Tyberg and Smith were willing to take time out of their busy schedules to talk to her daughter.

“I have a depth of understanding and an appreciation for the fact that they took time out to speak with Adlynn,” she says, noting requests to surgical centres closer to the family’s home in Fort St. John went unanswered. “It was an amazing experience.”

Tyberg was also pleased to speak with Adlynn and was particularly impressed with Wandler’s willingness to support her daughter’s interests.

“Adlynn has the personality and temperament to maximally realize her innate potential,” he says.
“Very importantly, she also has an outstanding parent who will help her.”

Tyberg, who has mentored dozens of trainees over the years, was pleased to be part of granting Adlynn’s birthday wish.

“A little encouragement can go a very long way, as I know from my own experience with my mentors,” he says.

Besides cardiac surgery, Adlynn is also interested in art, has been doing Highland Dancing for six years, and has studied both the piano and violin. She is also extremely active in school sports, with her favourites being badminton and volleyball.

Adlynn Wandler

Grade 5 BC student, Adlynn Wandler, wanted nothing more than to speak to a cardiac surgeon for her birthday. Libin members made her dream come true.

Colleen Wandler