Just weeks before his first birthday, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford patient Owen Fochler has returned home to Illinois. During his time in California, he had two major surgeries that would be challenging for anyone, much less a wee fellow still wearing diapers.
Fochler was diagnosed within days of birth with a rare heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot. He was also missing a valve connecting his heart and the lungs and had a progressive liver condition called biliary atresia that meant he needed a liver transplant. That’s a scary mouthful of a diagnosis.
But it wasn’t too much for the team at Packard Children’s. Fochler was treated with a surgery pioneered by pediatric heart surgeon Frank Hanley, MD, called unifocalization. Hanley is shown above on the left, with father Kyle and Owen, mother Devin and transplant specialist Carlos Esquivel, MD, PhD.
As a news release explains:
In May, the Fochler family relocated to Palo Alto, and in early June, Owen’s heart was successfully repaired in a 12-hour surgery performed by Hanley and his team… Following the surgery, doctors continued to monitor Owen’s liver condition, knowing that despite having his heart on the mend, a liver transplant would eventually still be necessary to save his life.
With his newly repaired heart, Owen quickly grew bigger and stronger, which made moving on to his liver transplant a viable option.
Devin was a match and she donated a piece of her liver to her son. Esquivel led the team through the procedure. And now, Owen is returning to a Chicago hospital to recuperate. From the release:
‘Owen has had a rocky road,’ said Devin. ‘But he is in such a good place now that it’s time to go home. Time to let him be a normal baby.’
Previously: Doctors at Packard Children’s extend life of 20-month-old’s failing heart, A difficult decision that saved three young lives and From Costa Rica to Stanford: Pediatric liver transplant surgeon shares his story
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben