NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A local eight-year-old is sharing his heart warrior story for the first time.

Sawyer Mountain has already had two open heart surgeries in his eight years of life, but he’s a fighter, and that’s what he wants the community to know.

It was at his 20-week ultrasound when the doctors shared the news with his parents, Jamie and Ken Mountain.

“They were like ‘Well, we think he has tricuspid atresia,’ which is a congenital heart defect,” Jamie said.

Tricuspid atresia means Sawyer’s tricuspid valve wasn’t fully developed, so the right side of his heart doesn’t fully function.

It wasn’t easy news to hear.

“When we found out about his heart, Jamie was very sad,” said Ken.

Said Jamie: “I didn’t get out of bed for about two weeks because it was rough. We didn’t know what to expect.”

Sawyer’s first open heart surgery was at three months old. The second was at three years old. The second was tougher for the family.

“He was able to express his emotions a lot more,” Ken said. “I can remember him just looking sad afterwards in the hospital bed, but they did a tremendous job of getting him up, getting him walking and finally getting him to smile after that surgery.”


“You would never know that he was born with a heart defect,” Ken said. “You would never know besides his little scar that he had open heart surgery. He’s an amazing little kid.”

Ken and Jamie say Sawyer doesn’t limit himself because of his condition.

That includes speaking in front of a room of more than 400 people. This past weekend, Sawyer spoke publicly for the first time at the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball (10 On Your Side is the proud sponsor of the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Ball).

Along with his parents and younger sister, Sloan, he shared some advice:

“I’m going to tell them, ‘Thank you for coming and like, just keep your hearts healthy,'” Sawyer said. “Eat good food.”

It’s an opportunity his family is grateful for.

“I just want other families to know that these heart warriors are resilient and it is a really rocky start and it’s emotional,” Jamie said. “With family and friends and support of the American Heart Association, they can get through it, and there’s a lot to look forward to after that.”

More information

Sawyer Mountain is involved in the Kids Heart Challenge through his school and the American Heart Association. You can find out more information on that by clicking here.