Allison and Jon Smith first learned from an ultrasound that the baby boy they were expecting would be born with a severe and rare heart defect. In Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, or HLHS, the heart does not develop properly and the infant is born with only one ventricle contributing to circulation, essentially having only half a heart.
The Smiths were referred to Anthony Azakie, MD, surgical director of the UCSF Pediatric Heart Center at UCSF Children's Hospital, and baby Joshua Robert was delivered on September 17. Within hours of his birth, Joshua underwent the first and riskiest of several necessary open heart surgeries to reconstruct his heart. Two more open heart surgeries will be scheduled before his third birthday, and he may eventually need a heart transplant, but he is doing well after the first surgery.
In an interview with KXTV, Azakie notes, "Children 20 or 30 years ago, even... 10 years ago, who were born with this congenital heart defect uniformly had a very bad outcome. Most of them died." The early detection, and the care provided by Azakie and his team at UCSF Children's Hospital, saved Joshua's life.
Baby Joshua Battles Rare Heart Defect
KXTV Sacramento (ABC), October 8, 2007
UCSF Pediatric Heart Center
UCSF Children's Hospital