How old is too old to bring your child to a pediatrician for a major surgery?

When the 16-year-old son of a Highland Ranch mother needed surgery for a painful hernia, she had to decide whether it was better to take him to a pediatrician or adult surgeon.

Gannon Watson, a sophomore and wrestler at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, had to stop wrestling because of the hernia. His mother, Heather Payant-Ngyen, had to decide where to get the surgery for his hernia, which forced him to stop struggling.

“They are still growing,” she explained. “If they’re still growing, they meet that guideline to go to pediatrics.”

She decided to send Gannon to Rocky Mountain Pediatric Surgery in Denver. It’s an option many parents overlook when their kids start growing so quickly.

Dr. Kristin Shipman, a pediatric surgery specialist at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, said the pediatric route has real benefits.

“We take care of patients from conception to college,” said Shipman. “We are used to taking care of pediatric patients regardless of their size.”

That includes kids like Gannon, who is six feet tall.

The tools that can be used are just as robust, Shipman said. She operated on Gannon via robotics. The procedure minimized recovery from four to six months to four to six weeks. It was all in an environment suitable for a child.

“It’s exciting for the patients,” said Shipman. “We are used to taking care of those patients with a pediatric perspective. It is beneficial and curative for the family.”

The decision is ultimately up to the parent. Always talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to continue treating your child.

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