Looking at Elias Robinson-Rodriquez’s smiling face, you’d never know that the 1-year-old boy has already endured three open heart surgeries in his short life. His troubles began before he was even born, when mom Abigail Robinson learned that he had a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries.
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Elias had his first heart surgery to reverse his arteries to the proper position when he was just 4 weeks old. He was in the hospital for the first 70 days of his life. A few short months later, he returned to have his second surgery to repair one of his heart’s valves.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking to think about our kid… going for open-heart surgery,” said Abigail. “That’s a lot to take in. I don’t know many grown adults that have gone through this, let alone a small infant.”
Elias began to recover once again, but the family knew he was facing a lifetime of open-heart surgeries in his future. Then, they got a call from Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, which offered a light at the end of the tunnel.
Elias was given the chance to have a partial heart transplant, a procedure so rare it’s only been done on six children in the world. This surgery would transplant a live aortic valve from a donor heart into Elias’ heart. This way, the valve will grow with him, so he won’t have to have more valve-repair surgeries.
Abigail and her family researched the idea, even reaching out to the mother of a child who’d had it done previously. When she learned that the child was “thriving,”she knew they had to give it a shot.
“For us, it was a leap of faith with a team that we knew could do it,” said Elias’s father, Christian Rodriquez.
Just two days after giving the okay, the family got the call of a lifetime. There was a donor valve available for Elias.
Elias had his groundbreaking 11-hour surgery in June. He received a valve from an anonymous donor, and he’s now out of the hospital and doing great! In fact, he just celebrated his first birthday, and his family is breathing a sigh of relief.
“It definitely does feel like a new chapter,” said Abigail. “It is a huge relief off our shoulders to not have to worry, in a sense. While there is some [concern], we don’t want to live in fear, so we’re just trying to live our lives right now.”
Doctors think this procedure could be “a breakthrough for children,”helping them avoid multiple surgeries throughout their lives! We hope to get updates from Elias as he continues to grow, thanks to his new heart valve.
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