Baby Survives Shocking In-Utero Heart Surgery

Playing Baby’s Incredible In-Utero Heart Surgery

The Doctors share an amazing story about baby Lorenzo who survived an in-utero heart surgery. Babies with severe heart issues often struggle to make it to term. Lorenzo's mother, Heather, was told at her 20-week scan that there was a problem with her baby’s blood flow and that she needed to see a cardiologist. There, she was given some scary news. Her baby had hypoplastic left heart syndrome -- a heart disease where the left side of the heart doesn’t develop. The baby also had severe leakage out of one of the heart valves.

The Director of Cardiac Catheterization & Intervention Therapies at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Aimee Armstrong tells The Doctors that this was a very rare situation, with reports of only 21 similar patients and only 2 of them survived past six months.

Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. James Strainic shares the scary statistics that without the surgery the baby had a 0% chance of survival and with it, only 20%. And, when they did the procedure, there was a 20% chance that the fetus would die during the procedure.

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The goal of the procedure is to open the valve and allow the heart to develop with less blockage. It is done by inserting a needle into the mother’s abdomen, into the uterus, and then into the fetus’ chest, directly into the heart. A wire with a balloon at the end of it is inserted and the balloon is inflated as a way to open the fetus’ aortic valve. “All we really wanted at that point, was to meet our child,” says Heather, who elected to go through the procedure.

OBG/YN Dr. Nita Landry asks Heather what it was like to be awake during the surgery. Heather explains that it was similar to a C-section where there was a curtain so she couldn't see what was going on, but she could hear everything. Dr. Armstrong says it is a relatively quick procedure.

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As Heather was wheeled out from the procedure she says she could tell it was a success by the smiles on all of the doctors’ faces.

Today, Lorenzo is a beautiful baby boy. His parents believe he is truly a miracle. Only a handful of fetal aortic valvuloplasty procedures are performed in the U.S. and Lorenzo and his family were fortunate to have the great team at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Armstrong and Dr. Strainic tell The Doctors that Lorenzo had to do another ballooning surgery at 3 weeks and may need to do another one again, but they expect him to live a completely normal life.