Little Brisa Gutierrez-Guerrero started life with a severely broken heart, and her frailty seemed destined to break her mother’s heart as well. Brisa had only one lung and so many heart defects that physicians in the north Florida community where she was born in October 2011 encouraged her mother to prepare to say farewell to the tiny newborn.
Leticia Guerrero refused to accept that Brisa had no future. She requested a second opinion and was told that her best bet for the type of medical heroics her child would need would be the Congenital Heart Institute at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital. The program is a nationally renowned referral center for children with highly complex conditions.
Nicklaus Children's was quick to accept the baby, who was airlifted by the hospital’s LifeFlight Critical Care Transport Team when she was just days old. “She needed multiple repairs, including repairs to her aortic arch; closure of an atrioventricular canal defect; repair of an atrial septic defect (a hole in her heart); and repair of a pulmonary artery sling, a condition in which the left pulmonary artery originates from the right pulmonary artery,” said Dr. Redmond P. Burke, Director of Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children's.
And if all of that were not enough, the child later needed to have her trachea rebuilt, in a second procedure, all within 30 days of her birth.
“Brisa had two extremely complex surgeries in her first month of life,” said Dr. Burke. “When you combine a baby with a fighting spirit with a team of doctors ready to fight for her against the odds, amazing things happen,” he said.
Leticia, now at home in Tallahassee with Brisa and the rest of her family, couldn’t agree more. “I am speechless. To think that they were going to disconnect her from life support before she was taken to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital. And look at her now. She is thriving. Dr. Burke and the care team saved her life, and I am just in awe.”