Human Interest

Doctors save baby’s life with mechanical heart valve the size of a dime

third trimester, heart, newborn, abortion survivors

A little Connecticut boy is thriving after receiving the world’s smallest mechanical heart valve. Baby Ellis Schwartz-Mosca received the valve when he was just two months old, and weighed only 7 pounds 9 ounces — a size that was previously unheard of.

According to a press release from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, doctors discovered that baby Ellis had aortic stenosis when his mom Alyse was 20 weeks pregnant. The condition meant that the left side of Ellis’s heart was too small. According to the doctors, Ellis would need immediate medical treatment after birth in order to survive.

After Ellis was born, doctors inserted a cardiac catheter when he was just three days old, and they later performed open-heart surgery when he was six weeks old. Unfortunately, though, the open-heart surgery wasn’t able to fix all of Ellis’s heart problems. His heart valve still wasn’t functioning on its own. Ellis wasn’t gaining weight, and he still needed a ventilator to breathe.

In order to fix the problem, Ellis’s doctors decided to do something unprecedented — to replace the heart valve with a mechanical one that measured about the size of a dime. Doctors say that up until a few years ago, this tiny mechanical valve didn’t even exist. Ellis received the valve during a second open-heart surgery when he was two months old.

READ: In the ER with heart failure, this cancer survivor learned she was pregnant with twins

According to the press release, “When Ellis is a toddler, and likely again when he’s a teenager, Connecticut Children’s cardiac surgeons will need to swap out his mechanical valve for bigger versions. Even when he’s an adult, he’ll continue to receive specialized heart care from Connecticut Children’s through our nationally-accredited Adult Congenital Heart Disease program, the only one in the state of Connecticut.”

“I can’t imagine not having good people to go through this with,” says Alyse. “We’re so grateful that, just 20 minutes away, we have the greatest children’s hospital.”

Now, four months later, Ellis is thriving. “He’s doing amazing. He’s chatty all the time,” says Alyse. “We found out very quickly that he’s in charge.”

The willingness of Ellis’s parents and his doctors to do everything possible to save him shows the importance of giving each child a chance at life.

“I’m grateful that something exists for someone so small,” says mom Alyse. “I’m so grateful that it was even a possibility.”

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