In the news this week, there have been two stories about newborns that required heart surgery. A five day old infant had her heart rebuilt by surgeons. A fifteen minute old baby had a pacemaker surgically attached to her heart. It is pretty amazing what science can do to save the lives of tiny babies who have special needs.
Keyota Cole is thirty-three years old, and is from Bakersfield, California. She has a form of congenital heart disease that is called Ebstein’s anomaly. This means that her tricuspid valve doesn’t work properly. The tricuspid is the valve that is between the two chambers on the right side of a person’s heart. This condition causes blood to leak back through the valve, and makes the heart work less efficiently. She also has abnormal pulmonary veins. I’m not entirely certain what that means.
Keyota Cole is the mother of a thirteen year old daughter (by birth) and a three year old daughter (by adoption). Doctors believed that she would be unable to become pregnant again, due to her heart condition. However, in 2011, she did become pregnant.
Doctors did a fetal echocardiogram on the baby. They learned that the baby had a serious congenital heart problem. The baby had a double inlet left ventricle. This is another congenital form of heart disease. It meant that the baby had a working left ventricle, and a smaller than normal right ventricle. The result is that oxygen-rich blood and oxygen-poor blood are combined.
The doctors decided that the way to save the life of this newborn, a girl named Faith, was to rebuild the plumbing of the baby’s heart. Five days after Faith was born, she had a complex surgery that took four hours. It is expected that Faith will require another heart surgery when she is between four and six months old, and an additional one when she is three years old.
Another infant, also from California, recently required a pacemaker. Jaya Maharaj is the daughter of Kamneel Maharaj and Leanne Maharaj. He is an IT manager in Silicon Valley. According to The Associated Press, the name Jaya means “victorious” in Hindi.
Before Jaya was born, doctors noticed that her heart rate was extremely low. They discovered that the baby had something called congenital heart block. This form of heart disease is a type of arrhythmia. This means that Jaya’s heart was producing an irregular pattern of pulses, or heart beats. There was something wrong with the electrical system in her heart.
Doctors knew that they needed to help Jaya as soon as possible. She was born nine weeks premature, and at that time, weighted only three and a half pounds. Fifteen minutes later, she had a surgery where doctors connected a tiny pacemaker to her heart. The size of her heart was close to the size of a walnut. Jaya is now three months old, and is doing well.
Image by singlestitches on Flickr