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I never heard of Pittsburgh…and now I’m never going to forget.”
Those were the words of a grateful mother whose newborn child’s life was saved by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
For Jacqueline Ivette Salgado of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, her intense medial journey began when she was pregnant and concluded with the birth of her son, Hugo, and the complex heart surgery he received shortly thereafter at Children’s.
When Jacqueline was three months pregnant, her doctors in Mexico detected a problem with her son’s heart. He was diagnosed in utero with ventricular hypoplasia, which is an incomplete development of an organ. In Hugo’s case, the left side structure of his heart was not developing properly. There were concerns that the pulmonary arteries were too narrow and he would not be able to properly use that side of his heart.
Pediatric cardiologists in Mexico consulted with Victor Morrell, MD, chief, Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s, who confirmed the diagnosis. Together, the doctors determined the best course would be to monitor and treat the baby in Pittsburgh as the hospitals in Mexico could not meet his complex medical needs.
“The mortality rate in Mexico for a child with this condition is around 95 percent,” notes Jacqueline. “That’s why we decided to come to the United States and specifically Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.”
Dr. Morrell agreed.
“In reality, the child’s only chance for long-term survival was to come to the United States and to Children’s Hospital where we treat complex neonates,” states Dr. Morrel.
At seven months, Jacqueline made the long trip to the United States to have physicians monitor her baby and prepare for eventual surgery after his birth.
After completing a fetal echocardiogram, Dr. Morrell confirmed that the baby had single ventricle physiology in which only one functioning ventricle was pumping blood. Dr. Morrell continued to monitor the baby until his birth at Magee Hospital; baby Hugo was transferred to Children’s just two hours later.
“When Hugo was born, we saw his structure was small. We knew he would have to have a number of operations,” notes Dr. Morrell. “Based on what we saw, we thought there was a chance he could survive with the Ross-Konno procedure.”
According to Dr. Morrell, Ross-Konno involves moving the small pulmonary aortic artery to the aortic position, inserting a tube in the pulmonary aortic artery, and placing the larger valve in its place to pump blood to the heart. During surgery, Dr. Morrell first tried to open the valve more, but the baby’s valve was not big enough. Instead, the damaged valve was replaced and the small aorta patched to make it bigger.
“The operation was a big one for a little baby,” says Dr. Morrell. “Everything worked out well.”
Hugo was in the Cardiac ICU for 11 days then transferred to a regular floor. He was discharged to the Family House and the Ronald McDonald house and continued to be seen for follow up care at Children’s before he and his mother returned home.
Because his heart will grow and the new valve will not, Hugo will need additional surgeries to replace the valve until his heart stops growing. Jacqueline intends to return to Pittsburgh to have the additional surgeries.
“The surgery went well and he has improved a lot,” notes Jacqueline. “I hope the rest of the surgeries go well and that he has a life like any other child.”
When she returned home, Jacqueline took fond memories of everything from the museums to Mount Washington, which she visited with the help of a local Catholic church in Pittsburgh. But most importantly, she remembers the care Hugo received at Children’s.
“I don´t have enough words to say thank you so much," says Jacqueline. “I am so thankful in my heart, with Dr. Morell, Dr. Mario Castro, and all the nurses in the CICU, they saved my son´s life.”
To seek a consultation or refer a patient to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, contact our International Services team by phone at +1-412-692-3000 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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