Baby with Rare Birth Defect Saved by World’s Smallest Heart Valve

Playing Baby’s Life Saved by Dime-Sized Heart Valve

Husband and wife Lee'or and Wendy were expecting but their initial excitement turned to fear when at 20 weeks they were told something was wrong with their unborn daughter’s heart. Upon birth, their daughter, Sadie, was put in the NICU where she was diagnosed with a complete atrioventricular canal defect. This is a very serious defect affecting valves between the chambers of the heart. Sadie underwent two surgeries to fix the defective valve and the hole in her heart but it wasn’t enough.

Watch: Baby's Incredible In-Utero Heart Surgery

The parents had one last chance to save their daughter; a tiny, 15 ml valve—about the size of a dime—could be inserted into Sadie’s heart to try and get it working. There was no guarantee this would work but if it didn’t, Wendy says they were going to be planning a funeral. 

The procedure was performed at Seattle’s Children Hospital by cardiac surgeon Dr. Jonathan Chen. He explains this valve is used for babies who are doing very badly and can’t leave the NICU. 

The surgery was a success and Sadie is now a vibrant little girl! The family joins The Doctors via Skype to further discuss this life-changing procedure. 

OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry explains it’s important to diagnose these congenital deformities using ultrasound while the baby is still in utero so that the baby can be born at a facility where doctors are properly trained to care for these issues. 

Wendy explains the biggest issue with Sadie’s valve surgery was that her heart valve placement was about 14.5 ml and the valve was 15 ml, so there was a chance it wouldn't fit. Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn also joins on Skype to further explain Sadie’s rare condition.

Dr. Kahn says 40,000 kids a year are born with congenital heart defects. However, the complex defect Sadie had effects only about 2,000 kids a year, many of them have downs syndrome but others, like Sadie, have no other conditions.

Watch: 23-Year-Old Woman Discovers Third Degree Heart Block

Dr. Khan shares an illustration of a normal heart and then a heart with Sadie’s condition to show how the blood flowed incorrectly due to holes in her heart. This condition has a 100% mortality rate if not treated. “This is such a manufacturing miracle, to be able to put so much hardware into this 15 ml valve and Sadie is alive because of it!” 

Thankfully, this device may now save the lives of other babies as well. In part due to Sadie’s success, the FDA has now approved this Abbott pediatric heart valve.

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