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A just-right fix for a tiny heart

A baby born with a rare heart complication is now thriving following two surgeries at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

When Carter was born in January 2018, his parents soon noticed something was wrong. His color wasn't good -- he was turning gray.

Tests at two hospitals near his family's home on the East Coast indicated that he had been born without a right pulmonary artery. Blood wasn't flowing to his right lung at all, and he was at risk of dangerously high blood pressure in his left lung. The standard treatment for the condition is to surgically implant a shunt in place of the missing blood vessel. The shunt must be replaced every few years as the child grows.

At first, Carter's parents, Kelly and Malcolm, were told that their son wasn't a candidate for surgery. Looking for more information online, they found the Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction program at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. When the Packard Children's team evaluated Carter, they had some surprising news for his parents, a story on the hospital's website explains:

Carter did, in fact, have a pulmonary artery, but it was in the wrong place. The condition is sometimes called absent pulmonary artery, but the doctors diagnosed Carter with discontinuous pulmonary artery resulting from a ductal origin. Their unique surgical approach to Carter's case would restore his lung without requiring any long-term treatments. Kelly and Malcolm could barely believe their ears.

Carter had two surgeries at Packard Children's in 2018. His own right pulmonary artery is now connected to his right lung, and he's doing great. Carter's surgeon, Frank Hanley, MD, told Kelly and Malcolm that he expects their son to grow up healthy, able to run and play with no restrictions. "Dr. Hanley and his team have delivered on their promise that Carter will have a normal life," said Kelly.

Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

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